A Tooth-Friendly Halloween!Wednesday, October 31, 2012 by: Dr. Biasucci
Halloween is just around the corner and I must say it is one of my favourite nights of the year as it is so much fun for both the kids and adults. I receive a lot questions from parents about preventing cavities caused by the large amount of candy eaten after Halloween. One thing I always tell parents is, it is the frequency of the candy that causes the problem not the amount or type so much.
So first, let me tell you what we tell our patients with children. The evening and day after Halloween give your kids their bag of candy and tell them to go to town, yes they can eat all the candy they want those two days. After the second day take it away and either donate or dispose of it or hide it in your own closet (and sample a few of the treats).
The reason to do this is to limit the frequency of consumption of the candy. Imagine if you give your child 1-2 Halloween treats each day until the sack is empty, well that can add up to quite a few days of candy/sugar exposure. This is where the problem is, the child has constant exposure to sugar on his teeth on a daily basis for let's say, for examples sake, 60 days. This adds up to a lot of exposure to sugar for those cavity causing bacteria lurking in the mouth. Most kids bring these Halloween treats to school in which case the sugar/simple carbohydrate is in the mouth for the day (especially in the case of stickier candies like toffee, caramels, gummies, licorice, chocolate bars, you get the drift) as most children do not brush their teeth during the school day (I am being realistic here, though I would love it if they did after lunch ;) Even chips have the potential to stick in the teeth and since they are carbohydrates, they also have the potential to cause cavitities if they stick in the teeth. Any kind of carbohydrate has the potential to break down in the mouth, increase the acidity level and cause decay/cavities.
So my recommendation, give them the candy, tell them to eat as much as they like Halloween night and the day after, then tell them it is going away (what you do with it depends on you, but the thing here is to pretend it is gone for good). If you just give them it on a short term basis then you are limiting the sugar exposure to the teeth thus reducing your risk of developing new cavities.
If this technique does not work in your house and the kids want to keep the candy to have some each day, the good oral hygiene rules will need to be applied a little more vigoursly to prevent cavities.
-Floss once a day (for those children not old enough to do it on their own, parents you will need
to step in and do it for them).
-Brush 3 times a day for a minimum of 2 minutes, paying special attention to the biting surfaces of the teeth.
-If you cannot brush during the day, drinking water will help rinse the mouth.
-As well, I really like sugar-free gum, chew it for a few minutes after a meal or sweets and it will help increase your salivary flow which can buffer the mouth (it can also help loosen up food in the biting surfaces of the teeth).
-I would also recommend that a daily or weekly fluoride rinse is incorporated to help prevent new cavities from forming on the surfaces of the teeth).
Follow my teeth friendly Halloween habits and hopefully you will have a cavity free Halloween 2012!
Dr.Biasucci, Dr.Haas and the Team at Northern Dental Care wish you a safe and fun Halloween!
For more information about our practice visit Northern Dental Care's website at, www.NorthernDentalCare.com