Why Is Sugar the Enemy?
At Stonegate Dental, we see the effects of sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis. Sugar on it’s own isn’t the problem. The problem is when sugar sits on tooth enamel and creates a bacterial acid that essentially eats away at enamel. If the acids are left to build on teeth repetitively, the acid eventually wears away the enamel in one area, making the tooth porous and susceptible to cavities. Cavities go beyond the enamel and the initial holes, which can cause pain and damage to the inner layers of the tooth (dentin) and gum line.
So how do you defeat the effects of sugar at Halloween? With a good oral hygiene routine and some Halloween Candy guidelines!
Explain to Your Child Why Oral Hygiene Is Important
As much as you can tell a child they need to take it easy on eating Halloween candy, they may not understand the reasoning behind it. Saying, “It will rot your teeth”, isn’t the most compelling reason and your child won’t learn anything from hearing that. Instead of scaring your child, take Halloween as an opportunity to discuss oral hygiene and why maintaining oral health is important. While your child may not understand the science behind acidity and decay, you can explain that eating too much sugar without brushing and flossing may will cause their mouth to hurt and can be bad for their teeth.
Introduce ways that they can enjoy Halloween Candy while keeping their teeth healthy such as:
1) Limiting how much candy they are allowed to collect.
Although you don’t want to stop them from going trick-or-treating, you can put a limit on how much Halloween Candy they will get while they’re out. Instead of taking them around until their feet get tired, have a pre-planned route with a certain number of houses. That way, you can control how much candy they will collect based on the number of houses you visit.
2) Giving Them a Smaller Trick-Or-Treating Bag
Sometimes, limiting how much sugar your child gets is as easy as making their trick-or-treating bag smaller. Let your child help you pick out a small trick-or-treating bag this year and explain to them that they can still get candy, but once it is filled, they are done trick-or-treating this Halloween. This eliminates the problem of children filling up pillowcases of candy and consuming high amounts of sugar from Halloween night.
3) Allowing Them To Trade Their Candy
This tip doesn’t mean allowing them to trade candy with their friends. Rather, this tip is aimed at getting your child to trade in their sugary Halloween candy for a different treat. For example, if they decide to trade in 1 candy bar, they can have 5 extra minutes of playtime before they go to bed. The trade system is something that parents will need to determine based on their child’s age.
4) Limiting the Time Spent Eating Hard Candy and Pop
While all sugar can harm teeth, sugar that is long lasting because of the amount of time spent consuming it, is a bit more harmful. With hard candy and pop, your child will take more time to consume the items, meaning that the sugars will have more time to build up and create acid. Think of a child that consumes a can of pop over the span of 2 hours as an afternoon snack, versus a child who consumes a can of pop at dinnertime. The child who consumes the can of pop at dinnertime is exposing their teeth to sugar for a smaller amount of time because they will likely be brushing their teeth a few hours later, versus a child who consumes a can of pop midday and lets the acids build up until their nighttime oral hygiene routine.
5) Picking and Rationing Out Their Candy
If you want to eliminate the excessive amount of sugar your child gets on Halloween, allow them to pick out a certain amount of pieces of their favourite candy. From here, create “rations” of their candy that will carry them until the next sugary time of year (Christmas holidays for most). This allows them to enjoy the sugar in moderation and their teeth are not exposed to excessive amounts of sugar in a small period of time.
6) Reinforcing Brushing Habits
Halloween and trick-or-treating is the perfect time to get your children practicing good oral hygiene. Remind them that eating Halloween candy means that they need to take extra care of their teeth so that they don’t hurt in the long-term. If they consume large amounts of sugar, it’s a great time to remind them that they need to brush twice a day normally, but that they can throw in a third brushing, especially if there is sticky candy!
7) Giving Them Healthy Foods To Balance Out the Sugar
If you find that your child is affected by all the Halloween sugar, take the opportunity to reinforce healthy eating—but with a Halloween theme! Serve up fruits and veggies in the shape of pumpkins or ghosts. Let them pick out a pumpkin or squash that can be eaten at dinner. The more enticing you can make healthy decisions, the more your child will be inclined to try the Halloween themed food and ditch the sugar.
8) Letting Them Pick Out a Brand New Toothbrush
Halloween is a time when all the costumes come out based around TV shows, movies and cartoon characters. Let your child take inspiration from TV shows, movies and cartoon characters and allow them to pick a toothbrush with these designs on them. Many toothbrushes and toothpastes have special designs or flavours that relate to these loveable characters, which may make your child more excited or reminded to brush their teeth twice a day.
Have A Happy, Healthy Halloween!
From all of us here at Stonegate Dental, we hope that all our young patients enjoy their Halloween! Parents, please remember to teach your child to brush twice a day, floss and keep up with their Dental Cleanings and Oral Examinations at our Guelph Dentist Office. For more information on children’s dental health and ways you can help your child, please don’t hesitate to contact the Stonegate Dental Team.