Halloween is right around the corner and it’s the start of that time of year when we all tend to throw the diet out the window (admit it, you overindulge on the candy and turkey and pies just as much as I do). There’s nothing wrong with a little treat now and then. The problem is, as adults we usually have at least a modicum of self control and we know not to overdo it. Our children, however, tend to be another story all together.
It’s important, at this time of year especially, to teach our children healthy eating and oral hygiene habits (Dr. Tom is teaching his grandson – pictured above- early). Halloween candy can do a number on your teeth as well as your waistline. There are many things you can teach your kiddos so that they can build those healthy habits and also have a Happy Halloween (and a happy Thanksgiving & Christmas too!).
1. Time It Right
Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.
2. Choose Candy Carefully
Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
3. Avoid Sticky Situations
Sticky candies cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
4. Drink More Water
5. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.
6. Stay Away from Sugary Beverages
This includes soda, sports drinks and flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.
7. Chew Gum with the ADA Seal
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria. Find one with the ADA Seal.
8. Brush Twice a Day
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Remember, replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
9. Clean Between Your Teeth
Floss your teeth once a day. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
10. Visit an ADA Dentist
Regular visits to your ADA-member dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they are easy to “treat.”
Interested in more healthy Halloween fun? Visit MouthHealthy.org for fun games, coloring sheets, activities and more!