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It’s not a coincidence that October is National Dental Hygiene Month. After all, it is the month that celebrates Halloween and for most children, this means a big bag full of free candy. Halloween can also present you with a number of safety and health challenges, including your child’s oral health. So, while it’s fine to let your kids eat candy on Halloween, it’s essential that you have a plan, according to the American Dental Association’s dentist, Dr. ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty.
To keep your child’s smile safe from unwanted cavities this Halloween as well as all-year-round, you may want to try these 10 tips by the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Association:
- Don’t Get Stuck
Encourage your child to brush their teeth after consuming candy. If you don’t have a toothbrush handy, you can provide them with a glass of water so they can swish the sugars away. Chewy, sticky candy is a cavity-causing culprit.
- Time It Right
Have your child eat their candy with their meals or shortly after their meals. During meals, saliva production increases and this helps cancel the acids out that mouth bacteria produces and rinses away food particles.
- Chew Only Gum With the ADA Seal
Have your kids chew sugarless gum instead of eating candy. Studies show when you chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating a meal, it helps decrease tooth decay since the increased saliva flow helps neutralize acid production by plaque bacteria and helps wash out food.
- Do Your Part
Pass out teeth-friendly treats when trick-or-treaters come to your house. For instance, sugarless chewing gum, sugarless hard candies, and sugarless lollipops are good alternatives.
- Stick to Chocolate
It is typically easier to brush chocolate off of teeth as opposed to other, stickier alternatives. If you choose to hand out candy this Halloween, chocolate might be a tasty choice for Trick-or-Treaters and for your own child’s consumption.
- Drink More Water
You could help prevent tooth decay by encouraging your children to drink fluoridated water. If you prefer bottled water, search for those that are fluoridated.
- Stay Away from Sugary Drinks
This includes sports drinks, soda and flavored waters. When your child’s teeth come in frequent contact with drinks containing sugar, it increases their risk of tooth decay.
- Floss After Eating Popcorn Balls
If your child has one or more of these in their trick-or-treat bag, have some floss handy. It’s incredibly common (and annoying) for popcorn kernels to become stuck in teeth. Leaving a piece of popcorn kernel wedged between the teeth opens the door for bacteria to grow, so be sure to have your child floss their teeth after eating popcorn balls.
- Forget the Hard Candies
Along with how often your child snacks, the length of time they keep sugary food in their mouth contributes to the development of cavities. Unless the hard candy is sugar-free, sucking on it can increase their risk of tooth decay.
- Brush Twice a Day and See Dentist
Have your child brush their teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste for two minutes. Make sure you replace their toothbrush every few months or if the bristles become frayed and have them see the dentist for regular teeth cleaning and checkups.
Halloween is supposed to be fun and the perfect time of year for indulging in scares and sweets. However, you don’t want to be scared of your kids’ oral health. Therefore, follow the 10 tips above and make sure your child or children are brushing and flossing their teeth every day, twice a day. And, don’t forget to schedule those dental check-ups.
Contact Matthews Family Dentistry today for you or your child’s oral hygiene needs.