Monday, October 20, 2014

Tips from the Dentist for Keeping Your Teeth Healthy This Halloween

As a local dentist, we work to keep our patients’ teeth and gums in the best possible health.  This is important because by preventing cavities and gum disease, we can keep our patients feeling great and free from tooth pain.  Many parents ask us questions about Halloween candy and whether or not they should let their kids eat it.  The reality is that sugar is bad for your teeth and gums so if you do let them eat it, take precautionary measures as well. 

Here is what we recommend:
  • Brush teeth with a fluoride toothpaste.  If you brush your kid’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste, it will help to strengthen them and prevent cavities.  This makes them less likely to become infected due to an occasional candy bar.  Before going out on Halloween, brush their teeth so that they are not putting sugar onto already dirty teeth. 
  • Visit the dentist.  It is important to start with healthy teeth.  Don’t go into the holiday season with a mouth full of cavities.  Schedule an appointment for you and your kids to have your teeth cleaned and examined so that we can treat any cavities before they have a chance to cause tooth pain.
  • Eat a healthy dinner.  Before going trick-or-treating, eat a dinner that is healthy and full of veggies, lean protein, dairy products, and complex carbs.  This will help your kids to feel full so that they won’t overindulge on candy. 
  • Take water with you.  When your kids want a piece of candy, have them take a drink of water before and after.  It will help them to feel less hungry, and the water will wash away the sugar afterwards.
  • Bring healthy snacks.  You can pack healthy snacks to carry on Halloween.  If your child gets hungry, give them an apple instead of reaching into the candy bag.  
  • Limit how much they eat.  Talk to your kids before you start trick-or-treating about how much candy they are allowed to eat.  By setting a limit, you can avoid the annual sugar rush.  This is also a good way to teach them how to eat in moderation instead of overindulging.  
When you get home from trick-or-treating, ask your kids to trade their bag of candy for a toy or a gift card.  This is a good way to incentivize them to give up sugary treats in exchange for something that is just as fun, but not bad for their health. By getting them to trade, you are showing that Halloween can be fun without loading up on candy. This is one way to set healthy habits and show them that rewards don’t need to be tied to food. 

If they do eat candy on Halloween, make sure to brush their teeth afterwards.  As a dentist, we also recommend that you carry a travel size antiseptic mouthwash.  This way they can rinse their mouth and kill the bacteria without needing to be near a sink and toothbrush.  
Stay safe and have fun this Halloween!

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