Halloween Dental Tips for Keeping Mouths Healthy
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Halloween means sweet treats are all around us. During this time, it’s inevitable your child will be consuming more than one sugary candy. Lurie Children’s Ray Jurado, DDS, Head of the Division of Dentistry, and Ashlee Cosantino, DDS, Attending Pediatric Dentist in the Division of Dentistry, share some helpful tips for keeping your children’s gums and teeth happy on this sugary holiday:
Eat a nutritious meal before
Make sure your family eats a healthy meal before trick-or-treating, which can help limit the number of sweets. Eating candy alongside a meal can also protect your teeth because the saliva our mouths produce help dilute the amount of sugar present.
And don’t forget about hydration! Drinks that some children love, like soda and even juice, can have as much or even more sugar than candy. Choose water as much as possible to rinse any leftover food particles out of the mouth.
Keep sticky, gummy candies to a minimum
When it comes to sugary treats, some are better than others. It’s beneficial to avoid sour, sticky and gummy candies, which are high in acidity and easily erode teeth. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, and sugarless candy are the safest options to prevent cavities.
Brush immediately after candy
Brushing your teeth for at least two minutes after eating food, especially sticky, starchy or sugary foods, helps prevent cavities from forming. Using a fluoride toothpaste is best if your child is old enough to thoroughly rinse with water and spit after brushing. Flossing is equally as important to clean those areas between the teeth that the toothbrush cannot reach.
If your child can’t brush their teeth within an hour of eating high-sugar foods, rinse the mouth out with water for 30 seconds, or chew gum made with xylitol.
Supervise your little ones
Remember that baby teeth, even though they will fall out, need to be taken care of. A child’s teeth save space for their adult teeth to grow into later, and healthy mouths mean fewer issues as they age. You may need to increase supervision or finish your child’s brushing job after eating candy if they aren’t hitting each corner of the mouth. Braces or expanders also make it difficult to brush around the hardware and increases the risk of cavities.
Enjoy the holiday!
In a poll conducted by the American Dental Association, more than 76 percent of dentists said they give out some form of candy to children trick-or-treating. Even Dr. Jurado said his family hands out chocolate goodies. It’s okay to splurge on candy if you instill healthy eating habits and proper oral hygiene in your kids at a young age.
Consider donating extra candy
When kids get home after trick-or-treating, try to sort through their candy together. Limit the amount of candy you keep in the house and your child’s unsupervised access. It’s okay to indulge, but if your household has too much candy, look for opportunities to give some away! For example, some local dental offices hold candy exchanges and give out non-sugary goodies to those who participate.
Always keep your regular dental appointments
Most importantly, don’t forget to visit the dentist twice a year. It’s the best way to prevent cavities before they start forming. Practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting the dentist every six months will keep your child’s mouth happy and healthy during Halloween season and throughout the year.
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