Spooky Scary Cavities: How to Protect Your Kids’ Teeth This Halloween
Halloween is just two days away, and even if your child isn’t trick-or-treating this year there’s a fair chance they’ll be making up for it with candy at home. Halloween candy can be pretty tempting for adults, too, especially while enjoying a favorite spooky movie.
While there’s no harm in enjoying a few treats this holiday, it’s important to keep an eye on how much sugar your kids (and you) are eating. Ghosts and ghouls aren’t the only things lurking in the shadows: cavities are, too. In fact, tooth decay is five times more common than childhood asthma. That said, here are a few ways you can help to keep everyone’s teeth healthy and happy this Halloween without ruining the fun.
Limit sugary drinks
Candy often isn’t the only thing that kids and parents alike enjoy on Halloween. Sugary drinks like apple cider and green-dyed fruit punch are usually a family favorite. However, it’s important to drink more water than juice throughout this spooky night. While fruit juice certainly doesn’t have as big an impact as energy drinks, which cause twice as much enamel loss as sports drinks, these drinks essentially bathe your teeth in a sugary bath. This gives the bacteria in your mouth plenty of food, which increases your risk of enamel loss, cavities, and tooth decay. To fight back against your mouth’s bad bacteria, drink water between glasses of juice to rinse the sugars away from your teeth.
Brush and floss your teeth
This may seem like a no-brainer. After all, the American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day. But with all the activity that goes on during Halloween, it can be easy to forget to brush your teeth at the end of the day and to remind your kids to do the same. It’s really important that you don’t let this happen.
It only takes 24 hours for plaque to turn into tartar on your teeth and, with all the candy and other sweets consumed on Halloween, you’re essentially giving the bad bacteria in your mouth all it needs to thrive. Think of plaque like a dental werewolf. Brushing your teeth and flossing at the end of the day will help to remove plaque before it turns into tartar, which only a dentist can remove.
Choose your candy carefully
Certain candies are worse for your teeth than others. Both hard candy and sticky taffies stay in your mouth for a longer time than other chewable snacks. This longer sugary food spends time in your mouth, the larger your risk of tooth decay. This is because it takes a longer time for your saliva to wash the sugar away, allowing it to sit on your teeth and collect. Try to eat fewer hard candies and sticky candies throughout the night.
Ironically, one of the best candies to consume this Halloween is chocolate. While no candy is ideal for your dental health, chocolate doesn’t stick around on your teeth like other candies. This minimizes your risk of tooth decay compared to other treats. If you and your kids prefer dark chocolate, that option is even better. Not only does dark chocolate contain less sugar than milk chocolate but it also has a few health benefits because it’s high in antioxidants.
It can be tricky to treat your teeth during this time of the year. But by being smart and playing it safe this spooky season, you can help to avoid tooth decay.