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Top Tips on Halloween Dental Health

Amid the scary costumes, trick or treats and bags of sweets, Dr Paul O’Dwyer, group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland, shares some useful tips on protecting your young family’s teeth and oral health from the ‘horrors’ of Halloween.

 

Six Top Tips on Halloween Dental Care

1. Timing of Treats

To help protect your child’s teeth this Halloween break, try to limit Halloween treats to mealtimes, such as straight after dinner. Avoid snacking on treats throughout the day and set aside specific snack times, ideally emulating typical school lunch breaks at home. Saliva production increases during meals, which helps rinse away sugary food particles and can help reduce the risk of cavities.

Before “trick or treating”, it is a good idea to ensure that children eat a healthy meal first. This will also hopefully decrease the volume of treats consumed.

2. Types of Treat

As well as frequency of snacking, the length of time sugary food stays in your child’s mouth can affect tooth decay. Avoid treats that tend to linger in the mouth, such as hard or sticky sweets, as they will do the most damage to teeth.

Another way to limit treats is to allow your child pick out a few favourites from his or her trick or treat bag, and enjoy them after dinner in the days following Halloween. You could consider donating the rest.

3. Drinking Water

It is important for children to drink plenty of water to rinse away the sugar after eating Halloween treats. The water will help to dilute any acid attacks caused by sugary snacks.

Wherever possible, try to replace sugary snacks such as sweets and chocolate, with Halloween-themed fruit alternatives. Avoid fruit drinks and smoothies that can often be viewed as healthy but tend sometimes to be high in sugar and bad for your teeth.

4. Regular Tooth Brushing

To keep their mouths healthy, regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is key. Children should also floss once a day, preferably after dinner.  Younger children should be supervised to ensure the correct amount of toothpaste is placed on the toothbrush.

After eating sugary treats, a good tip is to wait 30 minutes before brushing. Some acidic foods soften your enamel, so if you brush right after eating them, you can risk hurting your enamel further while it is still sensitive.

5. Annual Check-up

The mid-term break is a good opportunity to schedule a dental appointment for your child if you have not already done so this year. Prevention is better than cure, and regular check-ups will stimulate good brushing habits. Your child will also receive advice and support from their dentist and/or dental hygienist.

6. Halloween Teeth

In addition to protecting your child’s teeth from cavities, it is important to be cautious of Halloween costumes that may impact dental health, such as fake teeth or prosthetics. Read the labels carefully to avoid any potential choking hazards. In younger children, where they are losing baby teeth, it is always a good idea to avoid wearing any “false teeth”/ “fangs” which might accelerate loss of these important teeth.

So what do you have planned for Halloween? Do you plan to go Trick or Treating, and do you have a costume sorted? We'd love to hear.

Read Next: Dental Health Q&A


About the Author

Dr Paul O’Dwyer BDS, MSc is group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland, a new Irish-owned network of established dental practices nationwide. For further information, visit www.dentalcareireland.ie

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