Helpful Tips for Healthy Smiles at Halloween
Halloween is just around the corner and we all know that for most children, Halloween means candy and lots of it!
However, when your child consumes sugary food or drinks, the bacteria (germs) in the dental plaque on the teeth mix with the sugars in the candy to make a mild acid. This acid attacks the hard outer layer of the tooth, called the enamel. If the dental plaque isn’t removed every day by brushing and flossing, over time, the enamel gets soft and a cavity forms. The damage to the tooth depends on how much sugar goes in the mouth and how long it stays there. In other words, the longer and more often sugar touches the teeth, the more damage it can do.
To keep cavities away and protect your child’s smile this Halloween, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends taking these simple steps:
- Limit the number of times a day your child eats sugary treats or snacks between meals. Serve snacks that will not harm your child’s teeth, such as vegetables, cheese, nuts or seeds.
- It is best to eat sugary treats at the end of mealtime while there is still plenty of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps to wash away the sugars and acids.
- Drinking a glass of water after eating a sugary treat will also help wash away some of the sugars and acids.
- Avoid soft, sticky treats that get stuck between teeth.
- Always have your child brush and floss before going to bed.
Halloween candy can be a nightmare for someone who wears braces, but it doesn’t have to be. Trick-or-treaters who wear braces should avoid nuts, popcorn, tortilla chips, hard candy, caramel and other chewy candies to keep their braces safe and intact. However, there are plenty of other things that trick-or-treaters who wear braces can enjoy, like chocolate!
If you are concerned about the amount of candy that your child will receive, try rationing it over a few weeks. Another alternative would be to let your child trade in Halloween candy for a video game, book, toy or trip to the movies. You can also have your child set aside half of the Halloween candy and donate it to an organization such as a women’s shelter or a local soup kitchen. By reducing the amount of candy your child eats and by teaching your child that moderation is important, you won’t have to worry about things like tooth decay and Halloween will still be fun.
Here are healthy treat alternatives for parents to hand out on Halloween night to help trick-or-treaters avoid a mouthful of November cavities:
- Sugarless gum
- Sugarless candy
- String cheese
Parents can also give out fun toys and other gifts like Halloween stickers, Halloween pencils and erasers, temporary tattoos, vampire teeth, toothbrushes and floss, which will certainly help trick-or-treaters keep their smiles cavity free.
Fun Halloween Activities
Now that you have reviewed these healthy Halloween tips, have your child complete Spooktacular Smiles activity (PDF 201 KB) — a fun, fill-in-the-blanks activity that will help your child learn important tips about good oral health.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Source: Canadian Dental Association