If you have kids, they have probably already started looking forward to Halloween as a chance to stockpile sweets and lollies in preparation for summer. While children may love this celebration, it can present a headache for parents and dentists. Having a plan in place will ensure your children can enjoy Halloween and that candy without harming their teeth. We’ve listed a few helpful tips below.
Timing Is Important
If you are eating anything sweet like Halloween candy, try to have it during or shortly after a main meal. When you have a meal, saliva production increases, helping to neutralise acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinsing away loose food particles.
Avoid Snacking on Sweet Treats
It’s tempting to snack on sweets and lollies between meals, but this habit increases the risk of cavities. When you snack between meals, harmful bacteria thrive on leftover sugary particles and produce acids as a byproduct. These acids attack and weaken tooth enamel, eventually causing cavities. Your mouth remains more acidic at least half an hour after eating something sweet, so the more frequently you snack, the more often your teeth are exposed to these acids, which applies to adults and kids.
Take Care When Choosing Sweet Treats
Hard-boiled sweets are popular but linger in the mouth for longer. The longer anything sweet stays in your mouth, the higher the risk of cavities. Sticky sweets are another problem as they cling to your teeth for longer, are less able to be washed away by saliva, and can be tricky to remove when your child brushes their teeth.
Have a Plan for the Leftovers
Some children will probably receive a large number of sweets for Halloween, so make a plan to limit the amount they keep after Halloween is over. Get them to pick their favourites and donate the rest. If your child isn’t keen on this idea, you could offer to purchase the candy or swap it for a gift.
Drink More Water
Drinking plain water helps wash away excess sugars and is necessary for producing plenty of saliva. When your child is eating something sweet, encourage them to rinse their mouth with water afterwards and make sure they have a refillable water bottle so they can rehydrate on the go.
Avoid Sugary Drinks
Sports drinks, fizzy drinks and flavoured waters are all popular, especially with kids. However, these drinks are often laden with sugars and can easily increase the risk of tooth decay. Diet drinks are often just as bad for your dental health because acids are added to enhance the flavour. Plain water is the best drink for dental health, and tap water is fine.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum after eating something sweet helps increase saliva production, neutralising harmful acids more quickly. This year, you may want to give out sugar-free gum instead of sweets and lollies.
Brush Teeth Frequently
Over Halloween, ensure your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day using fluoridated toothpaste, and they must floss every day, especially after eating any sticky treats.