A tooth friendly Halloween Is it possible?
Scary movies, ghost walks, silly costumes, just a few of the things that we associate with Halloween. For children, Halloween is about dressing up and asking us to fill their buckets with chocolate, sweets and snacks. However while the night may be fun for all, it can turn out to be a ghastly one for teeth.
Letting children enjoy themselves but finding a compromise will benefit your child’s oral health in the short and long term. Remember, it’s not just children that this applies. How many parents out there are dipping into their children’s sweets after sending them to bed?
Why worry about Halloween?
Halloween is now the third largest shopping season after Christmas and Easter. UK shoppers spend around £474 million last year. Shopping stacked wall to wall with costumes and pumpkins, but we know the real horror lies in the sweet treats.
According to the Oral Health Foundation, what is a great night for children could be a ghastly one for their teeth. A quarter of five year olds in England have tooth decay. The foundation urges parents and children to find a compromise that will not leave their oral health a ghastly state.
How to reduce the problem
After one evening of trick or treating, children are likely to return with a bucket full of sugary goodies. Although they may prove to be too tempting for many children to resist, we believe parents need to be aware that eating sugary foods too often could prove damaging.
Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, says: “It is better for children to eat sugary foods all together, rather than to spread eating them out over a few hours. Of course we want children to enjoy themselves at Halloween, but there is a very real need for parents to moderate their child’s sweet consumption.”
The trick is to find a middle ground. If you want to give your child the odd sugary treat keep it for mealtimes. Ensure they keep up their dental health routine.
Every time we eat or drink anything sugary, our teeth come under an acid attack for up to one hour. Saliva plays a major role in neutralising the acid in the mouth, it takes up to an hour for the acidity levels in the mouth to be neutralised. If sweets are constantly being eaten, your teeth and mouth are constantly under attack and do not get the chance to recover. That is why one of the our key messages is to cut down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
Here are Warwick Lodges top tips for tooth friendly Halloween:
- Keep sweets to mealtimes only.
- Limit the number of houses you visit as this will help cut down how many sweets are collected.
- Ensure your child does not eat sweets one hour or less before bedtime. They can risk brushing off enamel from their teeth weakened by an acid attack.
- Supervise brushing teeth with a fluoride toothpaste before they go to bed. Brushing last thing at night is important as the mouth produces less saliva overnight.
- Offer sugar-free treats such as cheese, nuts or breadsticks as they are healthy alternative and do not cause tooth decay.
For more information about how to help children maintain good oral health check out the children’s oral health page.