Halloween Tips for Parents

 In dentistry, general dentistry, pediatric dentistry

With Halloween just around the corner, you may be considering the effects of the imminent candy onslaught on your small monsters’ teeth. It’s fair to say that health conscious parents everywhere cringe at the sight of their triumphant children’s heaping bags of sweets following the trick-or-treating ritual. As your source for family dentistry in Palo Alto, your Blue Turtle Dental team would like to assuage your fears: Halloween doesn’t have to be a scary holiday! Here are some of our tips for keeping Halloween safe for your kids’ teeth, while indulging in some spooky fun.

Set a treat schedule with your child

After her big Halloween haul, set a time for eating a small treat of her choice. Our suggestion is to combine candy-eating with an actual meal or snack (preferably a healthy one). This takes advantage of the elevated saliva production associated with eating, and thus saliva’s unique anti-microbial properties– in addition to its function of “cleaning” the mouth of bacteria food, like lingering sugar. Don’t worry if your child eats more than her “share” of candy on the actual night of Halloween. Just brush and floss afterwards, and set a schedule for the following days (or months).

Be choosy

We’ve all been taught to say please and thank you, and your polite children are no doubt as equally accepting of a stale Tootsie Roll as they are of a king size Snickers. However, once your children have brought their loot home, it’s worth it to go over that candy with a critical eye. Why? Well, not all candy is created equal in terms of oral health.

We suggest limiting the following:

  • Sticky, tacky candies that get stuck to teeth long after they’re eaten– like taffy or caramel. These could feed hungry bacteria hours after your child has finished her treat.
  • Hard candy, like jawbreakers, that require literally hours of sucking on a rock of sugar, also raise dental red flags. The entire time that your child is slowly, slowly eating away at his treat– bacteria in his mouth are getting the nutrients they need to eat away at your child’s teeth!
  • Acidic candy. What is this? You find acidic candy commonly labeled as “sour.” The problem is, raising acid levels in the mouth can harm tooth enamel— and if this sour candy is a hard candy as well, that means long exposure to enamel acid wash!

Seize the “teachable” moment

When it comes to Halloween and your child’s health, your glass of bubbly green witch’s brew is definitely half full. Instead of worrying about how much sugar your darling has gorged on, take this opportunity to teach her about good dental health habits.

Show your child that after indulging in a treat, it’s important to brush and floss to protect her teeth and gums from lingering sugar that could feed harmful bacteria. You can even explain how sugar causes cavities– it’s not the sugar itself, but the acid formed when bacteria eat sugar that eats away at our tooth enamel.

Practicing a schedule for eating a limited amount of treats, followed by appropriate oral care, sets your child up for later success in a lifetime of great dental health.

Questions about Halloween and your child’s heath?

Please call us. At Blue Turtle Dental, a family dentistry in Palo Alto, we’re happy to answer all your questions and brainstorm with you about the best way to keep your kids smiling. We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

Photo Credit: kierkier via Compfight cc

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