As the weather cools and the leaves change, this time of year brings about joy and excitement as we get closer to celebrating the holidays. With Halloween quickly approaching comes costume parties and tons of candy! While it can be fun to help your child pick out (or even make) their costume, there is often a sense of dread on a parent’s part for the amount of candy their child is about to consume. If you read the title of this blog, you may even be wondering, “How is it even possible to put the words ‘healthy’ and ‘Halloween’ in the same sentence?” We’re not saying you have to be that parent that passes out apples or toothbrushes when kids come “trick or treating.” In fact, we want you to enjoy this time with your child and help you handle any anxiety you may be having about the possibility of cavities. With a little discipline and preparation, it’s possible to help your child both enjoy Halloween and maintain a healthy smile.
Dr. Kimmy is a pediatric dentist in Manhasset, N.Y. who is passionate about treating young patients and giving parents the tools they need to help their children keep their teeth healthy. To plan your child’s visit, contact our office today online or by calling 516-365-4KID.
Tip #1: Choose Wisely
If you visit your local grocery store, there are tons of options when it comes to selecting Halloween candy. Just to name a few: lollipops, sour candy, caramel-filled chocolates, hard candies. The first step to having a healthy Halloween is determining the healthier options from the unhealthier options. When looking into your child’s candy-packed bag – try weeding out the candies that can cause the most damage, such as:
- Candy filled with nuts, as they can crack or damage teeth
- Hard candies, such as lollipops or jawbreakers that stay inside the teeth for long periods of time, increasing your child’s risk for cavities and tooth damage
- Sticky candies, such as taffy, cotton candy, or those filled with caramel, as they can get easily trapped within the tiny tooth cusps.
- Sugar-filled popcorn balls that can get caught easily between teeth and cause tooth pain or cavities
Tip #2: Moderation is Key
Don’t deprive your child of the opportunity of enjoying their Halloween. Just remember that moderation is important. Set a specific time of day that candy can be enjoyed and make sure they rinse their mouth with water after enjoying their sweet treat. This will give them something to look forward to and lower their risk for cavities.
Some parents have found success with sitting down with their children together and giving them the opportunity of selecting 10 pieces of candy to eat, and then freezing the rest to be enjoyed at a later date.
Tip #3: Practice Good Oral Hygiene
One of the keys to fighting off cavities is making sure your child practices good oral hygiene. Just as with adults, it’s important that children brush their teeth in the morning (preferably after breakfast) and right before going to bed. As more teeth develop, flossing should also be encouraged. Dr. Kimmy also recommends that children should visit the dentist once their first tooth erupts. This not only sets a good foundation for their primary and permanent teeth, but allows them the opportunity to get comfortable around a dentist at a young age. Patients who visit the dentist early on are less likely to develop dental anxiety as an adult.
Tip #4: Don’t Use Scare Tactics
While it’s possible for cavities to develop from eating candy, don’t use that as a scare tactic to deprive your child of enjoying candy. This can develop unhealthy eating habits and cause them to sneak treats when you’re not looking, or overeat when they’re on their own.
Tip #5: Plan a Visit to the Dentist
If you’re concerned your child has a cavity, or if it’s been sometime since they’ve seen the dentist, schedule a visit with pediatric dentist Dr. Kimmy right away. Delaying treatment could lead to a painful toothache and further damage. Contact our office today online or by calling 516-365-4KID.
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