October is here, and that can only mean one thing…Halloween season is upon us! Kids are pulling together costumes to assume the roles of their favorite super heroes/sports figures/princesses and parents are stocking up on the sweet treats to celebrate the holiday. As fun and festive as this annual tradition is, there are some concerns for health and safety that accompany it, especially in terms of oral health. Check out these tips, from the experts at MouthHealthy.com, on how to help your kids stay healthy this holiday season.
- Timing is everything. Sugary foods, like Halloween treats, are best enjoyed with meals or shortly after. During mealtime, saliva production increases, helping to cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. This helps rinse away any lingering food particles.
- Be selective. Hard candy, and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time, should be avoided. Candy that stays in your mouth for long periods expose teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay, unless it’s a sugar-free variety of course.
- Shy away from the sticky stuff. Sticky candies, like taffy and gummy bears, cling to your teeth and take longer to get washed away by saliva. This also increases the risk for tooth decay.
- Hit up some high quality H2O. Fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. Most city water is fluoridated, but if you prefer the bottled type, look for kinds that include fluoride.
- Eat a healthy diet. This is true year round, of course. The foods you choose to eat are the fuels that will keep your body operating. Only good foods will keep you functioning efficiently and can help maintain good oral and overall health.
- Say no to sugary drinks. Soda, sports drinks and flavored waters all contain sugar, and when teeth come in frequent contact with them, your risk of developing tooth decay significantly increases.
- Go with gum. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, thanks to good old saliva flow. Again, saliva helps to wash out food and neutralize acids.
- BRUSH! As always, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with an ADA-labeled fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every three or four months.
- Floss is your friend. Despite recent reports, it is still recommended that you floss once a day. The bacteria responsible for decay can get between teeth where toothbrushes can’t clean. Flossing helps to remove plaque and food particles there and under the gum line.
- Check in with your dentist regularly. Not only will regular visits help prevent problems from occurring, but your dentist will also have a better chance at catching any issues early, making it much easier to treat.
Halloween is the kick-off to the holiday season ahead, a time when many of us indulge a bit more than usual. These tips are applicable year-round, but are even more important during the sweet season that is upon us. Enjoy responsibly, and keep smiling!