How to Prevent Cavities and Tooth Decay
Halloween is right around the corner. By now, every aisle of your local store is lined with spooky decorations, cute costumes, and, most of all, delicious treats. While kiddos ramp up for a night of trick-or-treating, parents prepare themselves for the worst: cavity season. On Halloween night, children will consume roughly three cups of sugar, which is equivalent to 220 sugar packets, and over 650 grams more than the American Heart Association’s recommended daily intake. Dentists say this sugar consumption contributes to the 28% of children (ages 2-5) who are affected by cavities and tooth decay. However, this year, parents can enjoy October 31st without dental worries; we have expert tips that will allow kids to have their candy and eat it, too!
Below, we’ll go over the top six tips to help kids steer clear of cavities and keep the Halloween fun rolling all night long.
1. Practice Portion Control
The best way to avoid cavities is to take control of your child’s candy stash and monitor their intake. After trick-or-treating, go through their collection of candy. Use this time to portion the goodies and store a few pieces in a hidden place to pull out during the week or as you see fit. Other pieces can go in the freezer and be brought out after the first portion has been consumed. However, some of the candies can and should be thrown out, which brings us to tip number two.
2. Avoid Certain Candies
Dentists encourage parents to remember this saying: The longer a piece of candy can stay in your child’s mouth, the more dangerous it is for their dental health. That means things like caramels, gum, or lollipops should be avoided or thrown out if you plan to keep their teeth in tip-top shape. It’s also highly recommended to stay away from sticky candies or gummies. These can get in between teeth and cause severe tooth decay if not properly removed.
3. Timing is Key
Did you know consuming six pieces of candy in 20 minutes is less harmful than consuming three pieces over several hours? It’s true. That’s why it’s essential to keep the munching to a minimum. Sweets should be consumed in a single sitting versus snacking throughout the day, but the best time to munch is after mealtimes. After treat-time is over, make sure to rinse, brush, and floss.
4. Brush, Floss, Repeat
Possibly the easiest way for your little one to avoid dental issues is to brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss once at the end of each day or after consuming sweets. For the best results, remind them to use proper brushing techniques: Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle along the gum line, then use short and gentle strokes along the teeth and gums for about 2 minutes. For younger kids, it’s recommended that an adult help them, so no spots are missed.
5. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
If brushing and flossing isn’t an option, let them chew on a piece of sugar-free gum. The gum signals the brain to boost saliva production, which acts as a “rinse” and helps fight off bacteria and wash away harmful plaque that causes decay and gum irritation. The gum can also work to neutralize the acid in the mouth, which helps prevent sensitivity.
6. Schedule a Checkup
Last but not least, be sure to schedule your child’s routine checkups every six months. Doing so minimizes their chances of major dental work and helps detect forming cavities or decay.
With these six expert tips, kids can celebrate and enjoy their trick-or-treating to the fullest and protect their gleaming teeth!
Are Your Teeth Protected?
Candy isn’t the only culprit in the mix. Dentists and dental assistants are seeing an increase of patients with gum inflammation and other health issues since the start of COVID-19, and they believe face masks have something to do with it. Check out our blog Protect Your Pearly Whites: 4 Easy Ways to Avoid Mask Mouth to learn more about this issue and how to protect your smile.