Treating your family to a cavity free Halloween
Anaheim, CA – PR Buzz — It is natural for parents to worry about the effects of Halloween candy on their children’s teeth. Yet, there are several steps you can take to lessen the danger and also educate your children about oral health. It is very important to feed your kids a healthy dinner before they go out trick-or-treating. A full stomach can lower the risk of munching on candy throughout the evening. And the meal will boost saliva production, which helps protect teeth from the sugar and acidity of treats eaten later.
Explain benefits of brushing over dinner
During dinner is a perfect time to go over the basics of what causes cavities. Explain that the normal bacteria in the mouth feed on carbohydrates, including sugars and starches, and that this causes the production of acids which destroy tooth enamel, resulting in a cavity (decay). The longer the carbohydrates are in the mouth—as when little bits stick to the teeth—the more damage is done. That is why brushing teeth directly after eating is the best defense.
You should also explain that fluoride protects by preventing the formation of acids, and that is why we use toothpaste with fluoride.
‘Plan and follow’ for a cavity free Halloween
Make a plan that you and your children can agree on before they go out. Make sure they agree to follow the plan! Below are some elements that others have found helpful in their plans. Pick the ones that will work for your family. Have fun and let them have a cavity free Halloween!
- Kids agree not to eat candy until they get home so that they can brush afterword. If you cannot get them to agree to this, ask that they pick the least sticky types of candy for eating en route.
- Agree on a limit to the total number of candy items they will keep from what is brought home and allow them to pick their favorites. Immediately get the unpicked candy out of sight (and remember that is fine to throw it away since it does not benefit anyone).
- Offer to trade the other candy for other types of “treats” such as a game or toy, or a trip somewhere special.
- Decide on the number of pieces of candy they can have at one time and keep the rest (of the number you agreed on) under your supervision to hand out on subsequent evenings.
How much candy to allow at one time
Regarding the amount of candy they can eat at one time, you should know that regarding the effect on tooth decay, bringing all at once is better than consuming the same amount slowly over a period of several hours.
If you eat 2 or 3 pieces of candy when you eat that first one, your mouth stays acid the same length of time that it would if you ate just that single piece. It’s still 30-60 minutes.
If you keep eating candy throughout the day, there is acid in your mouth for a much longer period. The longer teeth are in an acid environment, the greater the risk they will become decayed.
Limit or cut candy for diabetic and overweight children
On the other hand, from the standpoint of diabetes and obesity, binging is a very bad idea. Certainly, a diabetic child should not consume any candy (unless it is sugarless).
However, overweight children are at high risk of becoming diabetic; for them, limiting sugar and carbohydrate consumption is essential. If your children are at risk for obesity and diabetes, you can expand the teachable moment to be about more than just tooth decay.
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