Children love candy. Unfortunately, so does the dental plaque that lives inside their mouths. For this reason, it’s best to consult with our family dentist in Kalamazoo, MI, to learn how to help your child enjoy a cavity-free Halloween this year.
Here’s what Dr. Bandos recommends.
1. Set a Time for Eating Candy
If left unsupervised, a lot of children would munch on candy all day. But instead of telling your child that they can’t enjoy their Halloween candy, you’re much better off setting a specific time during the day when they can enjoy sweets.
We recommend having “candy time” after dinner. That way, your child is able to first fill up their belly with healthy food before indulging in sweets. Also, chewing helps to produce more saliva in the mouth.
While it may seem weird to think about, saliva is important because it helps rinse away sugary food particles from your child’s teeth and gums.
2. Brush Teeth Twice a Day
If your child is younger than 7 or 8 years old, they’ll need help brushing their teeth. Make sure that you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste containing fluoride. Your child should then spit out the toothpaste into the sink.
It’s also important that you make sure they’re brushing for a full two minutes. Otherwise, they could neglect to brush their back teeth. If your child has trouble with this, try singing their favorite song to help pass the time.
Even older children may need reminders to brush and floss their teeth. The ultimate goal is to help your child develop good oral hygiene habits that will last a lifetime. That way, they’ll be able to enter adulthood with healthy teeth and gums.
3. Floss Once a Day
Plaque loves to hide where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. That’s why it’s important that your child flosses at least once a day. If your child is younger than 7 or 8 years old, you may need to floss their teeth for them.
By flossing once a day, you’ll be able to help your child enjoy a cavity-free Halloween.
4. Use a Fluoride Mouth Rinse
Tooth enamel is the protective outer layer of our teeth. But once enamel is lost, it’s gone for good. To prevent this from happening, our Kalamazoo dentist may recommend your child also use a fluoride mouth rinse to help strengthen their enamel and prevent cavities. But of course, this all depends on the age of the child since they’re not meant to swallow the rinse.
5. Introduce Your Child to the “Switch Witch”
Thefalls into the same category as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Every Halloween, you can give your child the opportunity to trade some of their candy for a toy. The more candy your child gives to the Switch Witch, the better the toy.
If you wish to invite the Switch Witch to your home this year, introduce your child to the idea a few weeks before Halloween. (If your child is already wearing their costume and is ready to go trick-or-treating, it’s too late.) That way, your child will have the chance to get used to the idea. They can also write a letter to the Switch Witch so you know what toy they’d like in exchange for their Halloween loot.
6. Be Mindful of What Candy You Buy
Candy that is hard, sour, or sticky is not as kind to your teeth. Instead, we recommend indulging in chocolate and other candies that dissolve quickly in the mouth. The more time candy spends in the mouth, the more your child’s teeth and gums are bathed in sugar. Sour candies are also acidic, which can weaken the enamel when combined with acid attacks from plaque.
7. Ask Us About Getting Dental Sealants
Dr. Bandos may recommend that your child getdental sealants if they’re prone to getting cavities on their back teeth. As the name suggests, a sealant will seal the chewing surfaces of back teeth so plaque has fewer places to hide.
help decrease your child’s risk of cavities in the long run. The procedure is also fast and painless. During your child’s appointment, we’ll clean and roughen the chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth. We’ll then paint on the clear sealant and cure it, which will help keep out plaque and food particles.
Related: Are Dental Sealants Worth the Money? →
8. Stay Hydrated
Encourage your child to stay hydrated during the spooky season. While drinking water is beneficial year-round, it’s especially helpful if your child is eating a lot of sugary treats. Once your child is done eating candy, a glass of water can help rinse away any sugar left behind on their teeth.
9. Avoid Popcorn Balls or Candy Apples
Certain Halloween treats are more hazardous for your child’s smile than others. For example, candy apples can be difficult to chew. Not to mention, the caramel is more likely to get stuck in your child’s teeth. Popcorn balls may also leave behind debris, contributing to plaque and tartar buildup.
10. Lead by Example
Be a role model for good dental habits. If your children see you taking care of your teeth, they are more likely to follow suit. It’s also a great idea to show your child that there’s nothing wrong with indulging in sweet treats as long as they know how to practice moderation.
Schedule an Appointment With Dr. Bandos
Don’t forget to schedule your child’s next teeth cleaning and exam with Kalamazoo Smiles. During your child’s appointment, Dr. Bandos will examine the inside of their mouth. She may also examine any X-rays that were taken during your child’s visit. By doing this, Dr. Bandos is able to detect the beginning signs of tooth decay before it grows into a larger cavity.
This blog post has been updated.