Herding your costumed kids from house to house as they proclaim in unison, “Trick-or-Treat” doesn’t have to turn their teeth into a spooky sight. And, you don’t have to turn into a witch and take away all of the sweet treats from your little ghosts and goblins, either. Follow these simple tricks to keep your little pumpkin’s teeth in tip-top shape:
- Skip the sticky, gummy, hard, and sour candies.The longer a sugary food stays in your child’s mouth, the greater risk they are to develop cavities. And, sticky candies take longer to get washed away by saliva. Dark chocolate is a good alternative.
- Eat candy with meals.Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.
- Practice good oral hygiene 365 days a year.Help your child establish a habit of brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Add in flossing at least once a day, and you’ve developed a great routine.
- When your kids brush is also important. Immediately after eating, tooth enamel will soften and can be brushed off. Instead of brushing right away, give your child a glass of water and wait 30 minutes prior to brushing and flossing.
- Consider donating your candy stash.We have many great options for donating unopened Halloween treats to be sent to troops overseas and other various organizations. Help your child pick out a few of their favorite pieces and then package the rest up.
- Make water your child’s beverage of choice. Even though the water in Spokane does not contain a level of fluoride that is sufficient enough to reduce decay, drinking water will wash away the sugar particles that can stick around.
- Regular dental appointments will help you keep your sweet smile healthy.Be sure to ask your dentist or pediatrician their thoughts on fluoride supplements, sealants, and fluoride varnish. Cavities can make it difficult for children toeat, sleep, and learn, and prevention is the key.
- Model good Halloween habits. Parents, we know kids aren’t the only ones dipping into the pillowcase of candy. Show your kids what moderate consumption looks like, followed up with consistent oral hygiene.
Whether you hand out toothbrushes or full-sized Snickers bars, you can have a Happy Halloween and a healthy mouth. It doesn’t have to end in a Halloween horror story… Choose to arm your children with these easy tricks as they battle the cavity monster.
ECEAP Health, Safety, and Nutrition Specialist
Community Colleges of Spokane