Trick or Treat! Here comes Halloween and with it, a non-stop, cavity-inducing sugar high. We all know that sweets play a harmful role in tooth decay. But this doesn’t mean that your child is destined for a long list of dental problems. Here's how taking certain steps can prevent tooth decay from hijacking your family's oral health.
1: Set Rules
Create boundaries that can help protect your child's oral health without cutting down on the fun, such as:
- A sweets "allowance" that lets your child indulge, but in a limited fashion.
- Frequent drinks of water to wash sugary particles off the surface of his/her teeth.
- A full meal before dessert to fill up on nutritious foods and help curb cravings.
- "Off-limits" beverages, such as carbonated sodas or fruit juices.
2: Teach Your Child to Choose Wisely
Not all sweets are equally damaging to teeth, so helping your child to make smarter choices can have a big impact on the amount of sugar he or she eats. Prolonged sucking on hard candies, for instance, is one of the most harmful ways to satisfy a sweet tooth because of lengthy, direct exposure of the tooth's surface to concentrated sugar.
Likewise, sticky foods that contain ingredients such as caramel or toffee are more likely to get lodged in between teeth, and chewing on them may even result in a lost filling. When possible, steer your child towards cakes and cookies instead.
3: Bring/Pack Something Nutritious
Make it easy for your child to opt for something nutritious by packing a healthy alternative. Cheese, for example, is calcium-rich and can help remineralize tooth enamel. An apple is another tooth-healthy option when chewed, its high fiber content makes it an excellent "plaque scrubber". Even sugar-free gum can do the trick if it contains xylitol, which can help prevent the growth of oral bacteria.
4: Have Your Child Brush and Floss As Soon As Possible
If you're always on the go, it may be worth packing a travel-sized toothbrush, but if your child forgets to brush amidst all the excitement, make sure he or she does so upon returning home. Flossing is just as critical. At minimum, your child should be brushing and flossing twice a day, but don't hesitate to add another round of cleaning if he or she has had a particularly rich meal.
5: See The Dentist
In addition to receiving a professional cleaning, your child's dentist can look for developing decay and gum disease, and treat it before it becomes more serious. He or she can also.
Help ensure your child is practicing the correct brushing and flossing techniques, and provide teeth additional protection in the form of dental sealants, if need be.
Do the same!
Lead by example and do yourself a favor. The same rule applies for adults. Follow these tips together with your child, and consult with your child's dentist for additional ways you can make dental care a simple and even fun experience for your child.
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