Halloween is fast approaching, and it is a fun time of the year for families. No doubt kids are all geared up with excitement thinking about trick-or-treating and collecting lots of sweets. It can be a bit of a trick for parents to make the supply of sugary treats disappear! Encourage children to sort out the stash into what they keep and what they won’t. This will also help you to reduce the number of sweets in the house while everyone still enjoys Halloween night.
There is nothing scarier for the teeth than sugar monsters like hard, sticky, chewy sweets or lollipops, as the sugar sticks to the teeth and stays in the mouth for longer. Too many of these can lead to cavities and tooth decay. Sour sweets have high levels of acid which weaken the tooth enamel making it more likely to get tooth decay.
Preparing a fun Halloween dinner will help to make less room in the tummy for sugary treats! Things like carrot sticks can be witches’ fingers, or meatballs could be spooky eyeballs, and will all go down well. The traditional Irish fruit bread ‘Barmbrack’ is a nice treat to finish off the meal.
The Dental Health Foundation advises that it is best to have Halloween treats at mealtime and to rinse the mouth with water afterward to wash away the sugar. Tap water containing fluoride can help prevent decay as the fluoride acts as a repair kit for teeth by helping to strengthen them.
Giving your child just one sweet a couple of times during the day between meals increases the risk of decay. This is because the more times you have sugar the greater the risk. The Foundation has a new online video on its website where you can learn about sugar and oral health.
It’s important that your child brushes their teeth twice a day to help prevent tooth decay – at night before bed and in the morning for two to three minutes. Do not use toothpaste for children aged under two, unless advised by your dentist. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste with at least 1000 parts per million fluoride. Younger children will need you to brush their teeth correctly and to supervise them to avoid swallowing toothpaste, until about seven years of age. Help and show them how to spit it out after brushing, don’t rinse with water as this only washes the protective fluoride off the teeth. Fluoride helps keep their teeth strong and mouth healthy. Replace toothbrushes about every three months, or sooner if the bristles are worn. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning the teeth.
Mid-term break is a great opportunity to bring them to the dentist for their annual check-up. It is recommended that they have their first dental visit by their first birthday so that they get used to the experience and to encourage good tooth brushing and oral hygiene habits.
For lots more oral health tips for a healthy Halloween see www.dentalhealth.ie
This article is from the Dental Foundation of Ireland