As Halloween approaches, most kids have just one dream – get as much candy as possible. Of course, for parents, that sounds more like a nightmare. While you don’t want your kids on a week-long sugar high and you don’t want them killing their teeth with sweet treats, Halloween can be a great time to talk to your kids about healthy choices and good oral health habits. This doesn’t mean depriving them of those Halloween favorites but instead teaching them the importance of moderation.
While a couple of pieces of candy won’t be problematic, too many sugary sweets can have adverse effects on dental health. When sugar builds up on teeth, it can result in cavities, dental pain, and an extra trip to your Overland Park dentist for an emergency dentistry visit for relief. But with a few helpful tips and tricks this Halloween, you can ensure they enjoy the fun while keeping their smile healthy.
Tip #1 – Eat Before You Trick-or-Treat
Planning to take the kids out trick-or-treating on Halloween? Or maybe you’ll be taking them to a trick-or-trunk night at a local business. Whatever the case, make sure that kids eat a good dinner before you head out to trick-or-treat. Give them a filling, healthy meal, so they aren’t feeling hungry as they collect bags of sweet treats. This will keep snacking to a minimum, so you’re able to get those treats home and check them out before they start chowing down.
Tip #2 – Skip the Continual Snacking
Kid’s shouldn’t be denied the whole Halloween experience, since this can send a message of deprivation, making sweets seem irresistible. However, you do want to avoid allowing kids to continually snack on their Halloween candy. Eating candy between meals can result in damage to teeth because the sugar stays on their teeth between meals. Snacking doesn’t trigger increased saliva production like eating a meal does, so extra sugar residue sticks to the teeth, creating harmful bacteria that can lead to cavities and dental pain. The best time for kids to indulge is right after they eat a meal when saliva production is at its highest.
Tip #3 – Pick the Best Treats to Consume
Once you’re home with all the treats, spend some time with your kids picking out the best treats for them to consume. To protect their teeth, avoid any candy that stays in the mouth for a lengthy period before dissolving, such as hard candy or Gobstoppers. Sucking on candies for a long time increases the risk of tooth decay. Sticky teeth like taffy, caramels, and gummy candies all cling to teeth, too. Chocolate treats are a better option since they melt and are less likely to stick to teeth.
Tip #4 – Make a Plan for Excess Candy
In many cases, kids come home from trick-or-treating with enough candy to last for weeks or even months. While it’s okay for kids to enjoy a bit of their loot, snacking on candy all the time can result in cavities, and cavities can lead to serious tooth pain and an emergency visit to the dentist in the future for treatment. Before you even head out trick-or-treating, let kids know that they can’t keep all the candy and have a plan for what you’ll do with the extra haul. You can always donate extra candy to organizations like Operation Gratitude, which collects donated candy and sends it to troops serving overseas.
Tip #5 – It’s the Perfect Time to Talk About Brushing
Halloween is the perfect time to talk to kids again about proper brushing habits. Remind kids how important it is to brush their teeth at least twice a day, and that nighttime brushing session is particularly critical if they were indulging in treats after heading out for trick-or-treat night. You can even get disclosing tablets to let kids sweet bacterial plaque buildup on their teeth, which gives kids a look at what’s happening to their teeth when they don’t brush well enough.
Along with brushing, a good fluoride mouth rinse for kids is also useful for preventing cavities. And for younger children under the age of eight, parental help and supervision are usually needed. Even if kids are older, it’s still important to offer friendly brushing and flossing reminders so they build healthy dental habits that will last a lifetime.
Tip #6 – Emphasize Healthy Food Choices
Right now, it’s Halloween, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are both coming soon. It’s easy to slack off on healthy food choices around this time of year. Don’t make the mistake of letting kids eat more candy and sweets this time of year. Instead, make sure you’re emphasizing how important it is to eat healthy foods while only eating sugary, sweet foods in moderation. Focusing on eating healthy and limiting treats now will help kids as they get older and become adults.
Tip #7 – Don’t Forget About Non-Candy Treats
Don’t forget; no one said that all treats at Halloween need to be candy. Non-candy treats can be a great compromise if you don’t want your kids to hoard all that candy this Halloween. Come up with some appropriate ideas that you know your kids will enjoy.
Last, don’t let your kids slack on those regular dental appointments this time of year. Regular dentistry visits are essential to maintaining healthy teeth and a beautiful smile. While it’s fine to let your kids enjoy some candy in a healthy way this Halloween, be sure to book an appointment with Dr. Ross S. Headley DDS at KC Smile for a cleaning and checkup after the sweet holiday. Contact us today at 913-491-6874 to schedule your child’s next dental appointment at our Overland Park office.