Trick or treat! Halloween is right around the corner, and right along with it is a plethora of gooey, sticky, toothache- inducing candies that invade children’s lives form every angle. Between the classroom Halloween party, the neighborhood costume parade, and community-wide trick or treating, children are surrounded by an excessive amount of sugary sweets during this time of year.
At Today’s Dental, Omaha’s best dentist, our team fields a lot of questions about tooth decay and oral health in relation to sugary treats. Here, we’ll share our expertise on the topic and show families the best ways to prevent cavities and promote good tooth care… while still enjoying some spooky holiday fun.
Tip #1: Schedule Candy Eating
Candy doesn’t need to be completely off-limits during Halloween. Most parents and teachers can tell you that the more you forbid an object creates an increased desire for that item. Before you find your child covered in chocolate and crying about a stomach ache, outline a candy eating schedule that makes sense. Encourage your child to pick out one or two pieces of candy that they’ll eat after their meal. Since saliva production increases during meals, this helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria and rinses out food particles. When you end a meal with sweets, you’re not “washing down” your meal; your mouth’s natural saliva production is actually washing down dessert.
Tip #2: Create a Candy Plan
In your child’s mind, they’ve worked really hard to “earn” their Halloween candy. They’ve gone door to door, spent hours in a costume, and used good manners to load up their treat bags. Don’t take away your child’s candy currency without a mutually-agreed upon plan for how and when your child will eat their goodies. You can also offer your child the chance to trade their candy for a non-food related incentive such as money or internet time. Involving your child in the candy plan decision-making process builds your child’s sense of autonomy and independence.
Tip #3: Avoid Hard and Sticky Candies
Suckers, hard candies, and toffee-laced treats not only make for sticky handprints all over the house, but also a mess in your child’s mouth. The refined sugar in these candies sticks around in your mouth long after the messy handprints are cleaned and faces are wiped. Mix that long-lasting sugary coating with a brittle texture and you have a recipe for cracking or chipping a tooth while attempting to bite into a hard candy. A better alternative? Chocolate! Of course, moderation is key. Not only does chocolate dissolve quickly and leaves less residual sugar, it also is much softer in texture which prevents chipped or cracked teeth.
Tip #4: Stay Away From Snacking
Snacking outside of designated times is dangerous not only for oral health, but also for your child’s overall well-being. If your child wants to eat a sweet snack, isolate what the child’s need is at that moment. Are they bored, stressed, or tired? Find another outlet for their emotions such as playing outside or coloring. Are they hungry? Drink a glass of water or provide a healthier alternative to a sugary fix. Remind your child that frequent sugary snacks lead to more cavities, so their choices today will affect their dental health tomorrow.
Tip #5: Brush and Floss Daily
Sure, children have heard the phrase, “Did you brush and floss your teeth yet?” throughout their childhood, but some reminders about the importance of these actions are still beneficial. In addition to promoting fresh breath and healthy gums, brushing and flossing prevents tooth loss, tooth decay, and cavities. Good oral health routines created in childhood ideally follow into adulthood, as well.
Dental health is important to avoid the tricks and treats that go along with sugary Halloween snacks. Schedule a visit with Omaha’s best dental team at Today’s Dental to see how we’ve been helping Omaha smile for the past 30 years!