Halloween is quickly approaching and you know what that means: your child is going to have a bag full of candy to munch on for the next few weeks. While enjoying their spoils from trick or treating is definitely one of the best parts of Halloween, consuming excessive amounts of candy can pose a threat to your child’s oral health. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t let them enjoy their candy–by all means, let them eat candy! However, there are a few things you can do to minimize the threat to your child’s oral health while they enjoy their candy. Here are some trick or treat tips for healthy teeth:
Set a designated time for eating candy
Constantly munching on candy throughout the day can not only ruin your child’s appetite, but it also exposes their teeth to sugary foods for longer periods of time, which drastically increases the risk of developing cavities. Instead, it can be helpful to set aside specific times to eat candy. Ideally, the best time to eat candy is right after a meal because that is when the mouth produces the most saliva. Having a lot of saliva helps to cancel out the acids produced by bacteria that have been exposed to sugar.
Drink plenty of water
If you expect your child to be eating more candy than usual, then you will want to encourage them to drink more water, especially water that has been fluoridated. Fluoridated drinking water helps to strengthen tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to the acids that cause cavities. Not only that, but drinking enough water helps produce adequate amounts of saliva to keep your child’s mouth clean. Finally, it is recommended that you have your child temporarily avoid sugary beverages while they consume candy, and water is a good drinking alternative.
While all types of candy have plenty of sugar, there are certain types of candy that have the potential to be more harmful to your child’s oral health than others. For example, hard candy is more likely to cause dental injuries, sticky candy is more likely to cling to the teeth and cause decay, and lollipops can increase the risk of decay by staying inside the mouth for longer amounts of time. Therefore if you have a child who is prone to cavities, you may want to sort through their candy and eliminate some of the larger threats.
Don’t forget to brush and floss
Make sure that your child realizes that part of enjoying their halloween candy means that they need to brush and floss their teeth afterwards. While it is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, it is ideal to have your child brush their teeth after every “candy binge” to remove sugars, bacteria, and acid from their mouth. When it comes to flossing, they should still floss once a day, preferably at night just before they go to bed.
Schedule a dental checkup
Although it is recommended to schedule a dental checkup for your child every six months, it may be helpful to schedule an appointment just after Halloween so your dentist can evaluate your child’s teeth. Scheduling a dental checkup after Halloween allows your dentist to make sure your child is brushing and flossing properly to prevent cavities. Getting their teeth professionally cleaned after eating a bunch of candy can also help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.