Cavities are one of the most common diseases in children in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 52% of 8-year-olds have cavities in one of their primary teeth. Cavities are caused by a build-up of plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the surface of the teeth. When plaque stays on teeth, it can harden and become tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist. When plaque and tartar are not removed, they can cause cavities. Given this, the biggest contributor to plaque-built up is sugary snacks and drinks. And with Halloween coming up, your child will likely consume more sugary snacks and drinks than usual. Here are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of cavities
Set a Limit on their Candy Consumption
Halloween traditions usually involve giving and receiving mountains of candy, but too much sugar can lead to cavities. According to a study in 2016, children should only have less than 25g of sugar per day, which, in perspective, is equal to about six sugar cubes. So, before your child starts their candy binge, sit with them and create a plan. Help them choose which candies they can have and when they can. For example, they can have two pieces of candy after lunch, but none near bedtime or before meals. Likewise, it’s also better to allow them to eat candy in one sitting than to have them munching on sweets every other hour. This reduces the duration their teeth are exposed to sugar and acid.
Choose Healthier Alternatives
Since Halloween night will likely be filled with candy, it’s important to cut down on the number of sweets your child eats leading up to the big night. You can encourage them to eat healthier alternatives such as dried fruit, nuts, and seeds, which are all great options that are much better for your child’s teeth. And on the day of, you can help your child sort their Halloween candy and trade in the sticky and hard sweets with toys, healthy snacks, or sugar-free candy. This is because sticky sweets like toffee and caramel can cling onto teeth, while hard sweets like lollipops can prolong the time your child’s teeth are exposed to sugar.
Encourage them to Drink Plenty of Water
Another way to keep your child’s teeth healthy this Halloween is to ensure they drink plenty of water. It helps rinse away sugar and other food particles that can cause cavities. Moreover, it’s also a good idea to have your child drink water after they eat candy, as this will help to wash away any lingering sugar. Likewise, water will help them stay hydrated as they walk around the neighborhood during trick-or-treating. So remember to bring a water bottle when you go out on Halloween night.
Teach Them Proper Dental Hygiene Practices
It’s important to teach your child proper brushing techniques. Doing this properly will help them remove plaque and tartar from their teeth, which can prevent cavities. Show them how to brush their teeth correctly, and ensure they brush for two minutes at least twice daily. You can also help them by getting them a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoride toothpaste, which will help protect their teeth against cavities. Likewise, you can also teach your child the importance of brushing your teeth. If they understand why they need to brush their teeth, they’re more likely to do it, even without your reminding them.
Schedule a Dental Checkup Before and After Halloween
While candy and sweets are a large part of the holiday, they can also lead to cavities and other problems if not consumed in moderation. A pre-Halloween checkup can help identify any areas of concern and allow your dentist to provide guidance on how to best protect your child’s teeth during the holiday. Afterward, another checkup can help ensure that any problems that may have arisen are caught early and treated accordingly. As such, you can ensure your child’s dental health by scheduling an appointment with a reputable pediatric dentist whose expertise can provide you with peace of mind that your child’s teeth are well taken care of. By making dental checkups a priority, you can help keep your child’s smile healthy and bright all year long.
Preparing your children for the incoming Halloween holiday is important, as it can help minimize the risk of cavities and other dental problems. Knowing how you can better approach the holiday in terms of your child’s dental health will help ensure that their teeth remain healthy and strong.