Halloween is almost here! Next week, the streets of East Houston will be filled with children trick-or-treating. The big bag of candy your kids will come home with provides them with a hearty supply of sweet treats that can last well into the winter. However, this candy can also wreak havoc on their teeth.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you come up with a plan for how you will distribute this candy to your children over the coming weeks. The following tips will help you reduce the risk of your children developing post-Halloween cavities.
Allow Your Kids to Eat Halloween Candy at Strategic Times
The ideal time to eat sugary Halloween treats is during or shortly after a meal. Saliva production increases when you eat, which provides several important functions:
- It helps rinse away sugary food particles which may get stuck on your teeth
- It neutralizes some of the acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth
Both of these benefits will help reduce the likelihood of developing cavities. As an additional benefit, your children will most likely be full after a big meal. This will help prevent them from wanting to binge on large amounts of candy at once.
Conversely, a surefire way to increase the risk of cavities is to allow your children to snack on sugary Halloween candy throughout the day. This should be avoided. If your children are hungry in between meals, give them a healthier snack that is low in sugar.
Drink More Water and Less Sugary Beverages
If your children are going to increase their consumption of candy over the next couple of months, you should balance this by reducing their intake of sugar in other parts of their diet. The easiest way to accomplish this is to limit, or ideally to avoid entirely, sugary beverages. These include:
- Sports drinks
- Fruit juices
- Flavored water
Instead, have your kids drink more water. Water will help rinse sugary substances off your children’s teeth. Whenever possible, try to give them fluoridated water since this will help prevent tooth decay.
Choose Candy Carefully
When your children come home from trick-or-treating, go through the bowl of candy before you let them start eating it. This will let you remove some of the items that are more harmful to their teeth, such as:
- Hard candies
- Sticky candies
- Gummy bears
These items increase the amount of time that sugar will come into contact with your teeth, which will increase the risk of tooth decay.
Be Diligent about Brushing and Flossing
Your children should always maintain good oral hygiene habits. This should involve brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing once a day. However, you may want to increase your children’s brushing regimen while they are eating Halloween candy. Have them brush shortly after eating candy to make sure the sugar gets cleaned off their teeth as soon as possible.
If your children aren’t able to brush after eating Halloween candy, you can also have them chew sugarless gum for about 20 minutes following the consumption of candy. This will increase saliva flow, which will help rinse the sugar off of their teeth and neutralize any acid that may be produced by bacteria in their mouth. Always look for sugarless gum with the ADA seal.
Limit the Amount of Candy Your Kids can Eat
You don’t have to let your children eat the entire bucket of candy they receive on Halloween. Setting limits on their candy consumption can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. Some tips for limiting candy consumption include:
- Setting strict limits on the number of pieces of candy they can eat per day (ideally, only allow them to eat this Halloween candy once per day)
- Limiting how long they can eat this candy after Halloween – discontinuing consumption of Halloween candy after a few weeks, regardless of how much is left, will help reduce the risk of cavities
- Having your children pick out their favorite pieces of candy (give them a set number to choose and make sure the most harmful items listed above have already been removed) and donate the rest to less fortunate children
Schedule a Dental Cleaning Shortly after Halloween
Brushing and flossing are important, but there is a limit on the effectiveness of these actions. In order to remove harmful plaque and tartar which builds up on your children’s teeth, they will need to visit the dentist for regularly scheduled teeth cleanings. A great time to bring your child for a cleaning is about a month after Halloween. This will help prevent the excess sugar exposure following Halloween from causing long term damage to your children’s teeth.
Contact our East Houston Dentist
Please contact Love Brushing Dentistry using the form on this page or call 713-490-2088 today to schedule a dental checkup and cleaning for your children. We serve patients in Pasadena, Baytown, Channelview and throughout East Houston.