Halloween is almost here, and along with it Trick or Treat times. Are there ways to make Halloween safer for your teeth or those of your child?
First, make sure costumes are the correct length and that your child can see well through his or her mask. A costume that’s too long or being unable to see are both tripping hazards. Front teeth are most likely to be injured in a fall. Remember most kids’s hands are busy with costume props and candy bags, so you can’t count on them to break their fall. Face paint may be a better option than a mask since it is less likely to block vision. Remember, a tooth injury is there for life. A little bit of prevention ahead of time is better than an emergency visit to the dentist.
Give your child a good meal before trick or treating so that he or she is less likely to want to gorge on candy afterward. This will give you time to check over what they bring home. In addition to throwing away unwrapped and homemade treats (unless you know who made them), if you have younger children in the house, you may also want to discard items that might be easily choked on such as gum, peanuts, and small hard candies or at least store them somewhere that younger children cannot reach.
What other items might you want to remove from your child’s trick or treat haul?
- Sticky candies: The stickiness makes it more likely that sugar in the candy will stay in contact with your tooth surface, even getting into pits and grooves where toothbrushes have a hard time reaching. If you do choose to let your child eat these, make sure he or she brushes for at least 2 minutes after eating them.
- Sour candies: One study showed that sour candies, such as Sour Patch Kids or SweetTarts, are worse for teeth than regular chewy candy, hard candy or licorice. Acid added by the manufacturer’s to create the tangy taste seems to be the culprit. If you choose to allow your child to eat these, have them rinse with plain water or chew sugarfree gum afterward to reduce oral acid levels, and don’t brush for at least 30 minutes after eating to allow your teeth’s enamel to reharden.
- Hard candies Hard candies expose your teeth to cavity-causing sugars for a longer period of time because of how long they remain in the mouth. Biting down on hard candy can cause chips, cracks or fractures in your teeth. For those with braces, the pressure from biting on hard candy can remove brackets from the teeth. If you choose to allow your child to have hard candy or lollipops, caution them to not bite into them.
Items like chocolate that are not in the mouth for a long time and that melt away are the best choices for your teeth.
Remember that it’s not how much candy you or your child eats, but how often you eat it that determines your cavity risk. Try to eat the treats right after a meal to lessen the acid impact. Brushing and flossing as soon after eating as possible will also reduce the effects of acids on your teeth.
Following these guidelines doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have any Halloween related dental problems, but they will make it less likely. If you do have a dental related Halloween problem, please don’t hesitate to call my office at 440-960-1940 or contact us through my website: www.drjrobb.com
Note: Information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.