Halloween can be a fun and exciting time of year… filled with costumes, pumpkin carvings, and of course – candy! Many parents fear this holiday, due to the immense amount of sugar and treats their children will have. However, Halloween can be a wonderful time to teach your children good oral health habits for life. Here are my tips to making Halloween as oral-health conscious as possible:
Enjoy the Halloween Experience!
Halloween can be a fun, family experience. Encourage family memories that go beyond the bag of candy. The Lower Mainland community has pumpkin patches that are great for the whole family. Here’s one in Richmond — http://www.countryfarms.ca/. Another fun family event is the Stanley Park Ghost Train — http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/ghost-train.aspx. Enjoy the adventure of trick-or-treating, or going to a Halloween family party. And of course, enjoying some treats on Halloween is OKAY! Parents can offer their children advice on how many to eat, and to brush their teeth afterwards.
Go through the Candy Bags
After your children return from trick-or-treating, go through the bags of candy together. Your child can pick a certain amount of candies they would like to enjoy that night. Parents can offer a limited number of candies… perhaps dependent on their age number. Parents can also recommend to their children, to choose candies that are less-damaging to their teeth. For instance, plain chocolate is a much better treat than hard candies (lollipops, hard candies) or sticky candies (caramels, toffees).
Set a treat time
The best time to enjoy sweets is directly after a meal, when saliva production is higher. Avoid grazing on sweets or carboyhydrate-rich snacks, as this exposes teeth to sugars and acids which cause cavities. Having a few treats at once is better than having one each hour. Brush teeth after enjoying sweets… and if this is not possible, rinse mouth with water, or chew xylitol mints or gum.
Donate or freeze
Consider reducing the amount of sugar your child has, by donating, freezing or incorporating the candy in baking. Candies can be used in trail mix, in cookies, or at a future birthday party. Frozen candy can be used during holiday season… perhaps to decorate gingerbread houses or cookies. If you don’t want the candy around at all, take it to work to share with others.
Brush and floss
Home oral care becomes critical when enjoying more sweets. Brush for two minutes and floss daily. Always check your children’s mouths to ensure they are cleaning all areas of the teeth.