The Halloween treats that kids collect during their trick-or-treating excursions don't necessarily have to pose a serious threat to the health of their teeth. Your child can still have fun and enjoy some tasty treats as long as you make wise choices about the treats he or she can eat, teach moderation, don't allow constant munching, and encourage regular brushing and flossing.
Treats That Don't Contribute to Tooth Decay
Although your child's dentist may caution against eating too many sugary treats this Halloween, some treats don't pose as high a risk as others for getting cavities.
Any sugar-free gum and candies that make their way into your child's trick-or-treat bag are healthier choices. Besides not containing sugar as an ingredient, sugar-free gum stimulates saliva flow, which washes away food particles and neutralizes acids in the mouth that can lead to cavities.
Check the label to see if the gum has the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval, which means that the product contains ingredients approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has been tested for safety and effectiveness.
Sugar-free lollipops are another treat that increase saliva, preventing dry mouth–a condition that leads to plaque buildup on teeth, increasing the risk of cavities. Since plaque is the accumulation of cavity-causing bacteria on your child's teeth, anything that helps remove dental plaque from teeth helps prevent cavities.
Treats to Discourage
Sticky treats, such as taffy, caramels, and gummy candies, are hard to get off the teeth. If the candy gets stuck in the cracks between the teeth or grooves on the teeth, saliva can't wash it away.
Even though dried fruit may seem like a healthier alternative for teeth, it isn't. Any sweet treat that sticks to the teeth increases the risk of tooth decay. The longer it's there, the worse for your child's teeth.
Discourage your child from eating too much candy and other sweet treats. Go through the trick-or-treat bag and remove any candies that you don't want your child to have and then allow him or her to pick out a few favorite treats from those that remain.
They may not taste sweet, but sour candies aren't any safer for your child's teeth. The acids in the candies can damage tooth enamel, leading to cavities.
While you should encourage your child to brush his or her teeth after eating any treats, when it comes to sour candies or other foods and drinks with acids, it's best to wait 30 minutes before brushing. Brushing sooner can spread the acid onto the surfaces of other teeth, increasing the risk of enamel erosion. What your child can do is rinse his or her mouth with water after eating acidic treats until it's time to brush.
Treats don't have to be high in sugar content to damage your child's tooth enamel. Pretzels, potato chips, and cookies that contain starches can lead to tooth decay as well. Bacteria in the mouth use the particles that starchy foods leave behind on the teeth to produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel.
Additional Tips to Follow
Encourage your child to floss at least once a day. Flossing helps remove food particles and decay-causing bacteria from between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. If your child is too young to floss independently, you can help.
Since dentists recommend getting a child a new toothbrush every three or four months or even before if the bristles are worn, use Halloween as a reminder to replace your child's toothbrush. Along with all the sweet treats, make certain that a new toothbrush finds its way into your child's trick-or-treat bag. For more information on caring for your child's oral health this holiday season, check out a site like http://www.childrensdent.com.