Halloween is almost here and we know that for many children (and big kids too!) that means candy and lots of it.
When our four children were small, they were allowed to eat as many treats as they wanted to when they arrived home from trick-or-treating… the rest mysteriously disappeared in the night…after all, Halloween falls only on October 31st.
When you eat sugary food or drinks, bacteria (germs) in plaque on your teeth mix with the sugars and produce a mild acid. If plaque is not removed daily, this acid attacks the hard outer enamel layer of the teeth and can eventually cause a cavity. Damage to the teeth depends on how much sugar goes in the mouth and how long it stays there. In other words, the longer and more often sugars are in the mouth the more damage will be done. Frequent snackers are at a greater risk of tooth decay as their teeth are constantly exposed to acidic conditions.
Think of it this way….we each have a 454gm container of the same candy. If I ate all of mine at once, I might feel ill but likely not have as much potential for developing cavities compared to you if you ate your container a few candies at a time every waking hour or so over the next few days.
- Make a plan
Before heading out, discuss your route, how long trick-or-treating will last, how much candy will be eaten when you return home AND how well you will brush and floss your teeth before bed. (tonight and every night!)
- Don’t trip
To prevent trips and falls make sure that costumes fit properly. Don’t choose shoes that are too big, high heels or long trailing dresses or pants.
- Don’t wear a mask
Masks make it hard to see what’s around you….including cars.
- Eat a healthy meal before you go out
Healthy meals and snacks should always come before candy and treats. Eat a healthy meal before going out trick-or-treating. A full tummy has less room for treats.
- Check the treats
Tell your child not to eat any treats before you get home. When you get home look through the treats to make sure everything is safe to eat…especially for those with allergies.
- Brush, floss and rinse
Sticky candy and plaque can get stuck in between teeth and can lead tooth decay. Brush and floss after a sweet snack and before bed. Rinse with a glass of water after eating a sugary treat to help wash away some of the sugars and acids.
Trick-or-treaters who have braces on should avoid nuts and hard candy, caramels and other chewy candies to keep their braces safe and in place. There are lots of other things that trick-or-treaters who have braces on can enjoy… like chocolate!
- If there is any candy left, be sure to set the time when treats should be eaten.
Sweet snacks are best eaten as dessert right after a meal. The extra saliva the meal churns up helps to wash away sugar and acids.
Stay alert, play safe and HAVE FUN!!!