Halloween is only a few days away, for most children that means costumes, parties and bags filled with candy and sweet treats that seem to last all winter long. Halloween should be fun, and sweets can be part of that fun, but it is important for parents and caregivers to remember that moderation is the key in keeping children, and their mouths, healthy.
Here are a few tips for parents that will help keep teeth healthy during Halloween, according to the American Academy of Dentistry:
- Eat Halloween candy and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.
- Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Besides how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
- Avoid sticky candies that cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
- Drink more water. Drinking optimally fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.
- Avoid beverages with added sugar such as soda, sports drinks or flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.
- Chew gum that has the ADA Seal. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
- Clean between teeth daily with floss. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
- Visit an ADA member dentist, such as HealthNet’s dentists! Regular visits to your ADA-member dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they are easy to “treat.”