Halloween means a big bag of sweet treats for the kids. It doesn’t have to mean a mouth full of cavities the next time they see a pediatric dentist. Here are some things you might want to have on hand for your kids when the go trick-or-treating:
- water: keeping your kids hydrated is always a good idea, especially if they’re going to be running from house to house in costumes. It also keeps their teeth healthier. Not only will water keep the mouth moist, it may also help wash some of the sticky sweet off their teeth. No, it’s not a substitute for brushing, but it can help.
- full bellies: kids with a good dinner in them before they go trick-or-treating are less likely to snack all night on candies afterward. Of course, no matter how full they are, they’re going to want to eat some of their loot right away. What you want to avoid is having them constantly sucking, eating, or chewing on something. Candy that lingers for along time, like hard candies or gum, can be especially problematic since they bathe the bacteria that cause cavities in nourishment over a prolonged period. As much as possible, associate candy time with right after meals to avoid continual snacking.
- a sensible costume: not all Halloween dental disasters involve candy. Children can trip and fall in unwieldy costumes or ones that obscure their vision too much. If a costume drags on the ground or is likely to tangle their feet, hem it up or use a belt to secure it so little feet can run unhindered. Likewise, make sure they can see through masks and eye-holes so they won’t run into things or each other.
- a no-nonsense attitude towards brushing and flossing: the bacteria that live in the mouths of little kids don’t take time off for Halloween. That means your little ghouls and goblins can’t take time off from brushing and flossing. After 24 hours, plaque hardens into tartar which is much harder to get off. Brushing regularly is vital, especially when the sweets are numerous.
There’s no need to deny anyone the fun of Halloween and a bag full of candy. Just be sensible about when and how the candy gets eaten. Take advantage of the chance to explain how lifestyle habits lead to better health and prettier smiles. As much fun as it can be once a year, nobody wants to look like a zombie when it’s not Halloween.