Goblins, Ghosts, and Gobstoppers: How to Protect Your Children's Teeth This Halloween

 

1. Time the treats

Complete avoidance is never the answer. Children, and adults, just want what they can't have. Instead, teach safer sugar consumption behavior. 

Encourage your child to only eat sugary treats with a meal. Or offer the treats right after a meal. This helps children avoid the temptation to eat candy after they've brushed.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), eating candy after a meal assists in canceling out harmful acids that lead to tooth decay. Don't let your children wait too long to brush.

2. Provide alternatives

It's easier for your children to resist eating a whole bag of fruit-flavored snacks when healthier sweet alternatives are around. As Halloween approaches, make sure you stock up on raw berries, apples, carrots, and other natural treats.

The fiber in whole foods helps reduce cravings and over-consumption while training the taste buds to prefer these better choices. But remember that fruit is still sugary and acidic and fruit juice is not the same as whole fruit.

Monitor fruit consumption as well. It's not completely harmless. Always encourage rinsing and brushing after eating.

3. Select better candy

Now we get controversial. While all candy can cause tooth decay, there are some candies that are better than others. The longer a candy stays in the mouth, the greater risk to your child's teeth.

Hard candies and those that require a lot of chewing will stay on the teeth longer. Taffies, caramel, and shiny candies may stay on the teeth for hours because of their stickiness. If you must choose between one candy and another, chocolate is really your best option. It's chewed up and swallowed much more quickly than other candy types.

4. Make sure your toothpaste has fluoride

You may be surprised to find that some very popular natural toothpastes don't include fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in some foods. Studies show that it reduces tooth decay risk significantly in children.

It's also naturally occurring in most home tap water. However, many children today drink filtered or bottled water. They may not get sufficient fluoride if it's not in their toothpaste. Please, go check the tube next time you brush.

5. Encourage healthy eating all year 

Dr. Sina would like to remind you that children who are accustomed to eating healthier foods all year find themselves less tempted to eat candy at Halloween. In fact, when you eat a well-balanced diet, most candy tastes too sweet. Does it mean your children won't eat some candy? It probably doesn't, but they may want to eat less of it.

6. Set some limits

Set some healthy limits. If your children trick-or-treat, bring all of the candy home. Let them choose a certain number of their favorites. Discard the rest. It seems like a waste of money and food, but allowing them to eat all of it could lead to cavities.

7. Don't feel bad

This time of year, you might feel like the "bad guy," but you're being a parent. You're doing what's best for your child. As your little ones grow, they take these moderation skills into adulthood. They'll be so grateful you helped them learn self-control.

Make sure your children understand why these rules are in place. Reward them when they make their own smart decisions about sweets to reinforce positive behavior.

8. Don't buy into, "Everyone's doing it"

It feels like candy is just part of being a kid. You may feel pressure from parents, teachers, and your children to ease up. If you're following these 10 strategies, then you're right on track. You're not being too strict, and you're probably not the only parent on the block who limits candy consumption. 

9. Reinforce the brushing schedule

Take this time to reinforce brushing and flossing with your little ones. Protect your children's teeth now, and give them healthy habits they'll take into adulthood.

10. Schedule a checkup

You're probably thinking about tooth health as Halloween approaches. It's the perfect time to schedule a check up here at Dentistry for Children. Contact the office to request an appointment.

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