Beware of Mouth Monsters this Halloween!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is the leading authority on children’s oral health, so you would expect them to have something to say about Halloween. And they do! “Whether your kids are attending Halloween parties or trick or treating in the neighborhood, keep on the lookout for ghosts, goblins and worst of all, Mouth Monsters,” the AAPD cautioned parents. “Sweets can still be part of the Halloween fun as long as parents and caregivers help their children practice moderation and proper oral hygiene to keep their mouths healthy.”
It’s ok to let your kids enjoy Halloween, kids should enjoy Halloween (even though it seems to be the adults who are more excited about it these days!). Let your kids go trick-or-treating or enjoy a Halloween party at a friend’s house or perhaps the mall. The time for parents to step in is when they come home with a full bag of candy.
According to the AAPD, you shouldn’t let children choose which treats they want to eat now, which they want to save for later and which they’re going to let go of. When they get home, go through the bags of candy together and let them pick a limited number of treats to keep. As a general rule, the stickier and gooey a certain type of candy is, the worse it is going to be for your child’s teeth.
These are the treats that you will hope to find in your kid’s bag of candy: sugar-free gum and dark chocolate. According to the AAPD, dark chocolate contains antioxidants and flavonoids that can inhibit bacteria from sticking to the teeth, preventing infections in gums and battling tooth decay. (Mom and Dad may want to stock up on some of that themselves!) Sugar-free gum that is made with xylitol is good because it promotes the growth of tooth-protective, non-acidic bacteria which can make it nearly impossible for bacteria and plaque to form.
The worst offenders are gummies, caramels and sour candies. The chewy, sticky candies get stuck in the grooves and crevices of the teeth making it hard for saliva to wash them away which leads to tooth decay. Sour candies have a high acidity content which breaks down tooth enamel, making teeth susceptible to a Mouth Monster invasion.
Practicing good healthy oral care habits the rest of the year is more important than monitoring what they enjoy on Halloween. Let the kids indulge in some candy. Make sure they drink plenty of water after eating the sweets, though. If they swish the water around in their mouths is will help dislodge particles that can get stuck and encourage the Mouth Monsters to latch onto tiny permanent or primary teeth.
Tooth decay is highly preventable. Making sure to brush and floss can make extreme differences in your child’s oral health. And making a toddler’s toothbrush something positive is a great place to start. For more healthy tips, contact the Raleigh pediatric dentists at Triangle Pediatric Dentistry.