Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tips for a "Tooth"rific Halloween

Halloween is an exciting holiday for kids, as they look forward to dressing up as their favorite characters and getting lots of yummy candy.  However, with all the extra candy can come extra tooth decay and cavities.  By following these simple tips you can keep kid's teeth healthy while they enjoy Halloween.

1. Choose candy wisely- Not all candy is equally scary for your teeth.  Choose candy that melts quickly and is eaten quickly (like chocolate).  Avoid candy that is sticky, gooey, chewy, or that sits in your mouth for long periods of time (like caramel).  When candy sits in your mouth it allows bacteria to produce the acid that causes tooth decay.

2. Keep candy out of reach- Gather up all the candy your kids collected and keep it out of reach and out of sight.  This keeps you and the kids from constantly thinking about and eating the candy.  It also keeps kids from being able to eat candy throughout the entire day without you being aware of it.

3. Avoid grazing- Don't allow children to constantly eat candy during the day.  This lengthens the amount of time sugar is in contact with teeth.  Instead have kids eat their candy at specific times, such as with a snack or after meals.  It is always best to eat sweets with other foods. The presence of the additional food increases the saliva production in the mouth. Plaque thrives on the acids produced by sugar. This increase in saliva helps to break down the sugar quickly, which in turn decreases the amount of acid produced in the mouth.

4. Eat Healthy Meals- Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.  Eat healthy meals on a regular basis to prevent excessive snacking on candy throughout the year, as well as during Halloween.

5. Brush and Floss- Brush and floss immediately after your child eats candy.  You can also have them rinse with children's fluoride mouth wash to give extra protection to their teeth.  If brushing their teeth is not an immediate option have them chew sugarless gum, which will increase saliva production and help break down sugar.

6.Visit your dentist regulary- Check ups help maintain healthy teeth and gums. Your dentist can detect oral infections, gum disease, and cavities earlier. Allowing for easier management of dental disease.

Use Halloween to teach children they can still have fun, and eat their candy too. By following these tips, they will learn how to enjoy the occasional treat while remembering the health of their teeth at the same time.