Is thinking about Halloween candy and its effect on your children’s teeth enough to give you the chills? Don’t despair — you can be mindful of your child’s health and still let them enjoy the special occasion.
The decay process in teeth works like this: The majority — about 90 percent — of all foods contain sugars or starches that enable bacteria in dental plaque to produce acids. This bacterial acid is what causes tooth decay. When a sugary food is consumed, the acid attach can last 20 minutes or more, leading to a loss of tooth mineral and, eventually, to cavities.
A child who licks a piece of hard candy every few minutes or slowly sips a sugary drink is more susceptible to tooth decay because long-lasting snacks create an acid attack on teeth the entire time they are in the mouth. Thus, one approach would be to allow your ghosts and goblins to indulge in Halloween candy at mealtime instead of as a snack.
Most of all, practice good oral hygiene by making sure your child brushes and flosses every day, uses fluoride toothpaste and visits the dentist regularly.
Tips on Dental Care for your Child:
- Brush your child’s teeth twice each day.
- When using toothpaste, use only a small amount (about the size of a small pea). Your child can learn how to brush his or her own teeth at about 3 years of age; however, they will be ineffective in removing all plaque. Therefore, parents should continue to help and supervise until the age of 8 for proper cleaning.
- Flossing is an important part of good dental health. Start flossing your child’s teeth when he or she has teeth that touch each other. Talk with your dentist about the right timing and technique to floss your child’s teeth and to teach your child to floss.
- From time to time, you may want to use disclosing tablets or rinses. Disclosing products work by coloring the plaque present on the teeth. When used after brushing, they will show plaque that remains, thus helping your child learn where they need to brush better.
- Visit your pediatric dentist twice a year. Your pediatric dentist provides an ongoing oral health assessment to prevent or reduce the risk of cavities.
Dr. Pamela Erickson received her dental degree from the University of Minnesota, as well as a certificate in pediatric dentistry and a Ph.D. in oral biology. She is a former member of the faculty of the University of Minnesota, where she held numerous appointments, including Director of Pediatric Dentistry and the prestigious McKnight Professorship. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, and is board certified in the specialty of pediatric dentistry. She is currently the President of the Minnesota Chapter of The International College of Dentists, has served as the president of the Minnesota Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and is also a member of the Minnesota Dental Association and American Dental Association. Dr. Erickson consults for Children’s Hospitals & Clinics and is the X-ray Lead for the Minnesota Mission of Mercy. Now that her four sons are older, she enjoys spending more time doing various crafts. Her favorite crafts include glass fusing and quilting, for which she has received numerous awards.