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A Dentist’s Guide to a Healthier Halloween

Halloween is always a fun time of the year. However, the increased intake of unhealthy sweets and sugary foods does have an impact on our young ones’ oral health. As parents and adults, we won’t sugar-coat it – we can also suffer the consequences of sneaking a couple while handing out the treats at the door!

Through all the fun, it’s important to remember that kids’ teeth need looking after properly this month. Growing teeth are more fragile and prone to developing dental health issues. Older children and young teens may also be at a stage where they need to realise their adult teeth are going to be with them for life. Blasé attitudes from teenage children may prevail, but we need to remind them they do need looking after.

This month is an ideal time to keep an eye on your children’s intake of sweets, while also reminding them how important it is to keep our teeth healthy. Nobody wants to be that parent demanding there are no sweets allowed. Instead, we’ve come up with a few ways to make this sugary season a little bit easier on the teeth. Here’s our dentist’s guide to a healthier Halloween.

Be Picky – Consider Which Treats are Most Damaging

Halloween is a tricky time for those trying to achieve that ideal balance between health and fun. Naturally, all parents do have different rules when it comes to their children’s diets. It’s important to remember that our children’s teeth are fragile and growing – and that an overload of sugar or hard treats will cause damage.

We would recommend advising against the most damaging sweets:

  • Hard – Toffee, nougat, boiled sweets, bonbons… These are all difficult to chew on and can chip or crack growing teeth. An alternative is to tell them not to bite, but to let the sweet dissolve. Kids can be impatient, so this won’t always work. With much smaller children, it’s also important to consider the choking hazards some of these hard sweets may present.
  • Sticky – It’s easy to forget how sticky foods can stay on our teeth for hours after we’ve eaten them. While trapped in crevices in the mouth or even for those couple of hours before we go to brush our teeth, the sugars in these sticky Halloween sweets get to work eroding our enamel. It’s even worse on children’s more delicate teeth.
    Advise against overly chewy gummy sweets, liquorice laces, and jelly beans. Marshmallow is maybe the best alternative for sticky sweets, as it’s softer and doesn’t adhere to teeth so easily.
  • Sugar-Coated – A dentist’s worst nightmare! If you want to scare your dentist this Halloween, tell them you’ve been gorging on sticky, sugar-coated sweets.

Encourage Less Harmful Treats

To stay on their sweet side, remember there are alternatives. Halloween is not cancelled! Now that you’ve selectively picked out the sweets that are most damaging to their teeth, you can offer replacements instead. Here are some of our favourite ideas:

  • Savoury snacks can be just as enjoyable, or even better, for some children. Offer cheese and fruits if you’re the one stuck at home dishing out the treats. Make these seem more appealing than the sugary treats! Nuts can be healthier options – until you have a child that is allergic to them. If offering nuts, always warn about allergies.
  • Consider how you can ‘trick’ them into healthier eating. Disguise healthier treats as treats. Fruit segments dipped in a thin layer of chocolate. Do this with cheese if you don’t fancy having any trick or treaters next year…
  • Set up a ‘swap shop’ for when your children bring their Halloween goodies home. Siblings can share their treats, and parents can check to make sure everyone has an equal share of both sweet and healthy treats. ‘Buy’ sweets off your kids and give pocket money instead.
  • Swap out a bunch of sweets for a healthier option. For example, a handful of toffee sweets can be replaced with a healthier (and much more appetising) toffee apple. ‘Toffee’ coatings can even be made using much healthier ingredients such as dates, almond milk, and coconut oil!
  • Not everyone has the time on their hands to do this, of course. Wrap fruit-based sweets into decorated Halloween bags. Cut up fruits and add scary almond teeth spikes to create faces. Bananas can be decorated with chocolate sauce to look like ghosts… The world is your pumpkin.
  • Dark chocolate is a great replacement for milk chocolate, as it contains less sugar. One great tip to remember is that chocolate is almost always a better treat for kids than sugary sweets. It doesn’t stick to the teeth so much and can be rinsed away easily with a mouthful of water.
  • Encourage chocolate over sweets if they must have sweeter foods. Have a stash of healthier savoury snacks to switch things up. Do remember that while fruits are obviously healthier than sweets, fruit is still high in natural sugars; so intake should also be monitored.

Take Your Time

On Halloween, children will naturally want to rush home and empty their trick or treating stash to compare with siblings or friends. Then they’ll happily spend a couple of hours working their way through the contents… This will inevitably have an impact on their oral health.

Watch your children as they eat their sweets. Try to limit their intake. Eating their Halloween treats all at once can mean the child won’t realise they’re full, as it takes time for the brain to recognise the body is digesting food.

Remind your children to wait before they brush their teeth. It might seem like a good idea to brush right after gorging on sweets, but this can harm the teeth. The acidity of sweets and sugars can soften the enamel – so when we brush right after eating these foods, we are essentially making the situation worse.

And one last point to consider, is that you’ll likely want to avoid the sugar rush involved in overeating sweets anyway – especially on a school night…

Prepare for Trick-or-Treating

This is more of a health-kick trick that you can play on your kids yourself on Halloween. Make a healthy, hearty meal that fills them up before they go trick or treating. With a full meal, they’re less likely to gorge on the sweets they receive throughout the night.

Skip the dessert – they will end up eating sweets anyway. Make sure they take a bottle of water trick-or-treating, or have one with you so you can make sure they rinse away the sugar after having a door-to-door treat. Something as simple as washing away the residue with water (and making them feel fuller) can make all the difference in preventing overindulgence in sugary treats. There can be painful after-effects once our children’s teeth begin to decay. The best way is to prevent this happening in the first place.

Healthy Habits

With all the talk about sweets surrounding Halloween, it’s important to step in and use this as a chance to educate your children about how to maintain healthy habits. Have them enjoy the fun stuff; but set limits. Here are some of our tips for developing healthy oral hygiene habits:

Make Flossing Fun

It’s often believed children don’t need to floss. Many adults don’t – but they should. Teaching these healthy habits early can make all the difference when it comes to retaining strong, healthy teeth in adulthood. Try making flossing less of a chore, and more of a family activity.

For children, it can be extra hard for them to reach trickier areas around their teeth. Encourage them and explain it’s something they will get better at with time. Try different kinds of rewards systems for those younger children, like sticker charts on the wall to reward good habits. In time, they’ll want to take care of their teeth. With dedication, you can make sure it will become a natural part of their waking and bedtime routine. You might not know it yet, but these habits will help them later in life.

Brushing Routines

We should all know to brush our teeth twice a day at a minimum; but we’re adults. This is a habit that’s been instilled in us since we were young. Children need those same routines we grew up with. Brushing your teeth together can be an easy way to make sure the job gets done properly.

Supervision

It’s easy to forget just how much we need to step in and educate our younger children on how to brush effectively. Getting them to do the brushing in the first place can be hard enough – but all our efforts may end up being pointless if they don’t know how to brush properly. Supervise kids when brushing. Watch their technique and offer praise. Try timing them to make sure they do brush for the full two minutes.

Regular Check-Ups!

All the above habits will hopefully ensure you and your family have healthy teeth. The only way to check this is to visit the dentist!

Book Your Post-Halloween Check-ups at Ringway Dental

Halloween is the ideal time to book an appointment with your dentist. If not for you, then book check-ups for your children – who have likely been eating more sweets than usual this month! At Ringway Dental, our team love having families to visit – and many of us have kids of our own.

We know children need to develop their skills and habits surrounding good oral health while they’re still young. Our children’s dentistry costs for dental exams are lower than for over 18s:

12 and under: £15

Age 13 – 17: £35

We are open until 5PM on Monday, Thursday, and Fridays – and 6PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. This gives our parent patients plenty of time to arrange appointments at a convenient time after school.

To book your post Halloween dentist appointment with us, get in touch today. You can fill out our online contact form if you have any questions, or call the surgery directly on 0161 437 2029.

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Ringway Dental

Visit us

  • 187 Finney Lane
  • Heald Green
  • Cheadle, SK8 3PX

Visit us

  • 187 Finney Lane
  • |
  • Heald Green
  • |
  • Cheadle
  • |
  • SK8 3PX
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