Can we stop our kids from compromising their teeth on October 31st?
Even though many parents now do their best to manage the amount of sweets and other sugary food and drinks that their children eat, there is one day of the year where this can be really difficult to achieve.
We are talking, of course, about Halloween, a festival that has grown in popularity in the UK over a number of years. Although Halloween itself dates back to a Celtic festival from nearly 2000 years ago, the thing it is now best known for by adults is ‘horror’ and by kids ‘sweets .. and lots of them’!
So what can our Wickford patients who have children do to protect those vulnerable young teeth at this time of the year? The Cygnet Dental Practice team offers a few suggestions below.
Choose sweets wisely
You might have to accept that your kids are not going to be eating healthy foods and will be putting as much sweet candy in their mouths that they can possibly get away with. Although this is not ideal, some choices are better than others. One example of this may surprise you, and that is it is better to choose chocolate, rather than a hard boiled sweet. The reason for this is that although the chocolate may perhaps have more sugar in it, it generally melts in the mouth and is swallowed reasonably quickly. Saliva will then wash away some of the remaining sugars. Hard boiled sweets and toffees on the other hand, are kept in the mouth for longer periods of time and the sugars will stick to the teeth for a longer period of time and are potentially more damaging.
Limit their consumption
Most kids, on returning home from trick or treating, will empty their sweets on the floor and probably start to eat them even before they look for their favourites. Some may even eat all of the sweets in one go if you let them. If they do this, you will probably also have to deal with sickness along with any tooth damage. Try to limit the amount that they eat each day. Also, try to make sure that they eat them at a sensible time such as a little before they clean their teeth. This will minimise the amount of time that the sugar stays on their teeth.
This isn’t something that we would generally recommend, but for long term tooth health, a little parental ‘blackmail’ can be quite effective. Offer them alternatives to their sweets. For example, you might offer to take them to see a favourite film at the cinema or a day out somewhere, in exchange for some of their sweets. This may work best after their first or second session, perhaps when they are getting a little bored and have already eaten their favourites. If you are successful in this, make sure that you don’t eat them yourself and put the sweets away to be shared sparingly at a later time. There is no point in damaging your teeth as well!
Trick or Treat alternatives
One way that you can stop them from coming home with a massive bag of sweets is to offer an alternative. Kids love to dress up and you could allow them to do this to see who comes up with the scariest costume. Depending on their age and confidence, you could also watch a child friendly scary movie as a family, perhaps creating some healthier but ‘spooky’ food instead of lots of sweets.
Supervise their brushing
At the end of a busy evening, and especially if they have tucked into their sweet ‘stash’, brushing their teeth is likely to be a very low priority. When bedtime comes and the sugar hit has subsided, the last thing they are likely to want to do is to give their teeth anything but the most cursory brushing. This however, is especially important given the sugars that are likely to be stuck to their teeth. Even if you don’t normally, it is worth considering supervising them whilst they brush their teeth, making sure that they do them well and for long enough. This will help to minimise any damage from the confectionery that they have consumed.
If you are planning to take your kids trick or treating in Wickford in a few days time, we hope that the above suggestions help a little. Any reduction in their sugar intake can only be a good thing but of course we understand that they need to enjoy themselves too.
It is also a good time to remind parents that children should see their dentist twice yearly to have a check up and any treatment that might be needed. If you haven’t arranged an appointment for your children (or yourself), you can do so by calling the Cygnet Dental Practice on 01268 733078 and our team will be pleased to help.