What is more frightening than all the ghouls, goblins and monsters running amuck on Halloween night? If you are a parent, it’s the cavities that will be handed out freely to your children from your neighbors and local shops in the guise of brightly colored paper that dresses the cavities up as candy.
As a parent, you don’t want to be the big bad wolf on Halloween and take the fun out of the holiday. However, you need to think about the health of your children’s teeth before you consider letting them devour what seems like endless amounts of candy and chocolate.
There is, of course, always, compromise. A new trend has taken place between parents and children over the past few years. Parents have found strategies that still allow Halloween fun and treats that children can enjoy without putting their teeth at risk.
Fun Ways to Explain Good and Bad Bacteria
The important thing to understand about tooth decay is exactly how it happens and how to explain in an age appropriate way the adverse effects that eating too much candy and chocolate can have on their teeth.
The Battle of the Bacteria and your children’s teeth
Most parents know what dangers are lurking at the bottom of their child’s Halloween bag, but many parents are not aware of what is going on inside their child’s mouth. There are hundreds of good and bad bacteria in our mouth. These bacteria occupy every space available in our mouth and are always working against each other to take over and foil the others plan. There are good bacteria that work with the fluoride in our toothpaste and some places drinking water to help keep our mouth healthy and cavity free; while the bad bacteria team up with sugar to form acids that attack and erode our teeth. This explanation sounds easy for children to understand, but you should try something a bit more fun and clever to get their attention.
For instance, children learn things better if it relates to something they know. You could try referring to brushing their teeth as something a superhero would do while working with their partner’s saliva and fluoride to beat the nasty villain called bacteria that works with sugar and acidic foods to cause cavity and tooth decay.
A Good Compromise
The next step is finding alternative ways to compromise with your children so that they can still enjoy the holiday without feeling cheated or set apart from other children they know
Alternative Treats on Halloween
Families are putting more of a spin on traditional holidays these days and making them more personalized. For instance, some parents are taking different snacks, or homemade movie tickets, small toys, and get out of doing chore coupons to their neighbors in advance and asking them to give these to their children instead of candy when they come to the door. Other parents do a candy for cash scheme for every pound of candy the child trades in they get money in return.
Planning a neighborhood, Halloween Trick-or-treat trail that offers alternatives to sweets and chocolate is a good idea. If you decide that you want to celebrate Halloween the old-fashioned way and allow your children to eat the candy they get on Halloween night, that is OK too. Just remember to hand out the sweets over several weeks instead of days and make sure that your child cleans their teeth after they have eaten any candy or chocolate treats.
Reversing Early Signs of Tooth Decay
According to the National Dental and Craniofacial Institute, it is possible to reverse early signs of tooth decay. If you notice tooth decay in its early or moderate stages, then there is a good chance that you can repair your child’s teeth. NIDCR, suggest that you make sure your child brushes with a fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day as well as, and don’t forget to remind them to floss once a day. Ask your dentist about a protective coating to go on your child’s teeth, as usual, monitor your child’s intake of sugar and acidic foods. It is important to remember that sugars are in most things such as fruit juice, packaged drinks, sodas, homemade Southern sweet tea as well as well as, fruits and processed foods. So keep in mind that no matter what your child is eating or drinking they need to brush away the bad bacteria.
Broken, Chipped, Knocked Out Teeth
What should you do if your little one falls and knocks out a tooth while ghouling around on Halloween or breaks or chips a tooth on a piece of that frightful candy?
If your child does break or chip a tooth, you must take them to the dentist straight away, even if the tooth is not a permanent tooth. A chipped or broken tooth is open to infection and bacteria. A dentist should access the tooth to see what steps need to be taken to mend your child’s tooth. If you can find the chipped or broken tooth place it in a glass of milk and take it to the dentist, it is possible that the dentist may be able to put the chipped or broken piece back into your child’s mouth.
If your child knocks out a permanent or baby tooth, you should take the same steps you would with a chipped or broken tooth. Making sure you take your child straight to the dentist. However, make sure you hold the tooth that was knocked out by the base and not the root.
Dental Visits and Toothbrushes
Unless told otherwise by your dentist then you should take your child for a dental checkup every six months. Also, make sure that you change your child’s toothbrush every three months.
- Try to find a fun and child-friendly way to explain the battle between the good and bad bacteria that live in your child’s mouth that causes tooth decay.
- Look for alternative treats to give your little goblins on Halloween and try and work with neighbors or other parents to create a Halloween trick- or – a treat that will make both parents and children happy.
- Know that your child can have candy and chocolate on Halloween but teach them the importance of moderation while enjoying their treats.
- Reversing the early to moderate signs of tooth decay is possible if you limit or stop your child from eating and drinking so many sugary and acidic products and brushing their teeth after every meal is ideal but no less than twice a day.
- If your child knocks out, breaks or chips a permanent or baby tooth do not hesitate to take them to the dentist straight away. Make sure you put the tooth in a glass of milk because the dentist might be able to save the child’s tooth.
- Don’t forget to take your child to the dentist every six months or twice a year, more visits may be necessary if the dentist requires.
For more information on healthy teeth, tooth decay prevention, or if you would like to schedule a teeth cleaning for your child contact Dr. Chauvin’s office today!
Dr. Chauvin and his wonderful staff hopes you have a happy and frightfully fun Halloween.