Americans buy about 300,000 tons of candy during the week of Halloween,. That’s about 2 pounds per person! The good news is that simple habits, like brushing and flossing, can help your child celebrate a cavity-free Halloween.
The scariest thing about Halloween should be ghosts, ghouls, and goblins—not tooth decay.
In this blog post, we’ll explainand what you can do to stop them.
How Cavities Form
A lot of people think that sugar causes cavities but this is only part of the puzzle. While diet certainly plays a role in your child’s oral health, dental plaque is what ultimately causes cavities.
Have your teeth ever felt rough or “fuzzy” after eating something sweet? While plaque is an invisible film of bacteria, it’s not uncommon for us to feel it on our teeth. After eating, this bacteria consumes any sugar that’s left behind and produces an acid that erodes enamel. If left untreated, plaque can harden into tartar and lead to tooth decay.
This is why it’s so important to encourage healthy dental habits at home. While a certain amount of plaque is inevitable, your child can still maintain a healthy smile by brushing and flossing every day.
1. Enforce Teeth Brushing
The American Dental Association recommends that people of all ages brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. This helps remove plaque from your child’s teeth so it doesn’t have a chance to harden into tartar. While you can remove plaque at home, only a dental professional will be able to remove tartar.
Children younger than 7 or 8 years old will need an adult to help them brush their teeth. Older children may need supervision to ensure they’re brushing properly and for at least two minutes.
2. Remember to Floss
Plaque loves to hide where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. That’s why our dentists recommend flossing once a day to remove any food particles that are caught between teeth. You’ll need to help your child with flossing if they’re younger than 7 or 8 years old.
3. Use a Fluoride Mouth Rinse
Fluoride mouth rinse should never be swallowed, which is why we only recommend these products for older children.
Fluoride helps to strengthen your child’s enamel so it’s resistant to acid attacks from plaque. It also helps rinse away any food particles that could be left behind after brushing and flossing.
4. Set a Time for Eating Candy
Snacking on candy all day can be bad for your child’s teeth. Instead, our dentists recommend that your child eat candy after dinner. That way, they’re able to fill up on healthy food before satisfying their sweet tooth.
Eating also helps the mouth produce more saliva. While it may seem weird to think about, saliva is important because it helps to rinse sugar off of your child’s teeth and gums.
5. Introduce Your Child to the “Switch Witch”
Like all sugary foods, candy is fine when eaten in moderation. But this can be difficult when your child is hoarding a pile of sugary loot!
What’s a parent to do?!
Invite the “Switch Witch” to your home, of course!
The Switch Witch is a good friend of ours over at Kiss Dental. She’s a good witch that takes as much (or as little) candy your child decides to trade. In exchange, she’ll leave behind a toy your child would like.
If you’d like to invite the Switch Witch to your home, alert your child to her existence a few weeks before Halloween. That way, they’ll have time to get used to the idea. If your child is already dressed up to go trick-or-treating, it’s too late.
Once your child gets home from trick-or-treating, have them sort whatever candy they don’t want into a pile for the Switch Witch. Then, once they’re asleep, you can make the trade.
If you do decide to invite the Switch Witch to your home, get rid of the evidence. Although, we will advise that you also take care of your own oral health so that your next checkup with us is cavity-free.
6. Be Picky About What Candy You Buy
Some candy is worse for your child’s oral health than others. For example, caramel is both packed with sugar and sticky. This combination allows caramel to sit on your child’s teeth and become an all-you-can-eat feast for bacteria.
Likewise, hard candies spend a lot of time in the mouth and expose the teeth to more sugar. This is different from chocolate, which is soft and dissolves quickly in the mouth.
While all candy contains sugar, you have a lot of power as a parent to control what sweets end up in your shopping cart.
7. Schedule Your Child’s Next Teeth Cleaning
The goal of preventive dental care is to help your child avoid cavities and other oral health problems.
We recommend that our patients receive a teeth cleaning and oral examination at least every 6 months. That way, we’re able to monitor your child’s oral health and catch any issues while they’re in their early stages.