Halloween horror stories often feature ghouls and goblins, but a candy bar can be just as frightening! You work incredibly hard to protect your children’s teeth from tooth decay all year long. Don’t let October 31st be the one day a year you let your guard down.
Tooth decay can lead to fillings and, if left unchecked, crowns, root canals, and even lost teeth. Even if your child is still very young and has their baby teeth, you want to keep those teeth cavity-free. A cavity in a baby tooth is just painful for your child as a cavity in an adult tooth. Also, baby teeth act as placeholders for their adult teeth, so you wouldn’t want them to lose one prematurely or to have it pulled.
As you ramp up your defenses against Halloween candy, it’s important to remember that treats enjoyed all year round, like chips and crackers, can also do a number on your teeth. These starches break down into sugars that get quite cozy between your teeth and along your gum line. Brushing your teeth two times a day and flossing at least once a day is crucial to good oral hygiene.
In addition to regular dental cleanings and dental exams, a good year-round protectant for your teeth is fluoride. Fluoride is in water and toothpaste because it’s been shown to strengthen teeth. 1st In Smiles offers many fluoride treatments that can help defend your children’s teeth against tooth decay.
- Foam fluoride treatments: At our office, we apply a strong fluoride foam to your teeth to make them more durable against tooth decay.
- Fluoride varnish treatment: Similar to the foam, we can apply this to your teeth at our office.
- Prescription-strength fluoride to-go: For patients who are frequently cavity-ridden, we will send you home with prescription-strength fluoride treatment.
- Sealants: Give your children’s teeth a shield against cavities with a sealant. Sealants are painted onto the surface of their teeth, usually their back teeth, to keep bacteria from flourishing in their grooves. Sealants are even a great idea for adults!
Now, let’s take on Halloween! Follow these 4 tips from 1st In Smiles to survive the holiday cavity-free.
4 Tips to Survive Halloween Without Tooth Decay
- Trick-or-treat alternative.This is a particularly good idea for small children and easiest if you already have a set playgroup for your child. Instead of taking your child from house to house, all the parents can get their children together at one home for fun and games and healthy Halloween-themed snacks that bypass that candy overload completely.
- Trick-or-treat and trash. Let your child enjoy one or two pieces of candy after they trick-or-treat, then trash the rest of it. Your child will still get to participate in all of the festivities without the candy lingering around the house for months. If you don’t trash the candy, at least put it out of sight where kids are less likely to ask for it or get into it unsupervised. If you’re monitoring their candy consumption, you can make sure they brush afterward. Candy eaten unseen means your child might have sweets stuck in their teeth for hours until they brush their teeth right before bed.
- Learning opportunity. This one is aimed at older children. Instead of sheltering your child from sugary sweets, use Halloween as an opportunity to teach them about making good decisions. You and your child can go through their candy and decide together which treats pose the least risk and how to practice good oral hygiene after eating candy. You can also explain moderation to them. If they choose to have some gummy bears, then that means they should drink water instead of washing it down with a sweet drink like a soda.
- Brush following sweets. Don’t let sugar overstay its welcome. Make your child brush their teeth after eating candy. Even better, have them floss and use a mouth rinse to really get any sticky bits from between their teeth. If you’re on the go, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can help remove some of the sugar from their teeth until they can brush properly.
Visit Dr. Rick Barfield, Plano, TX dentist, for more tips on caring for your child’s teeth!
Teaching your child how to consume treats with caution will help set them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth. The adult teeth your child has today are the same teeth you want them to be able to keep for decades to come. We can’t eliminate sugar and other snacks from our kids’ diets completely, but we can teach them how to munch responsibly.