Halloween may be a child’s favorite holiday, but when it comes to their oral health most parents may consider it to be among the worst.
While dental disease is the number one chronic disease of early childhood, Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service, the state’s largest provider of dental benefits, wants you to know that this spooky season actually provides children an opportunity to enjoy treats while learning good oral health habits for the rest of the year.
So how do you help your little ghosts and goblins to avoid the oral health hazards of Halloween? Here’s five tips:
- Choose Wisely: avoid hard or sticky candies that take a long time to eat and encourage kids to choose candy that melts quickly, like chocolate. Try treats – like gum and mints – with Xylitol, a natural sweetener that prevents bacteria from producing acids that cause tooth decay. Instead of candy, treat your little goblins to colorful Halloween pencils, stickers or temporary tattoos. Offer your children a new, brightly-colored toothbrush as a final Halloween “goodie.”
- No Grazing: don’t allow unsupervised grazing on candy, instead provide a treat after a meal or as a reward for good behavior; immediately followed by a thorough tooth-brushing or at least a glass of water.
- Set a Time Limit on the Treats: stock up on candy for Trick-or-Treaters as close to Halloween as possible to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge. Get rid of the post-Halloween stash as soon as your kids forget about it.
- Eat This, Not That: try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.
- Make a Secret Stash: don’t leave candy around the house after Halloween, store in a hidden place out of kids’ reach.
And as part of Delta Dental’s effort to keep kids’ teeth healthy from candy consumption during the Halloween season, Delta Dental has created videos with oral health tips for parents of trick-or-treaters. To view, visit www.TrickyTreats.org.