Trick or Toothache: Avoid these Common Pitfalls this HalloweenMarch 9, 2020 6:09 am
Trick or treat! Halloween is just around the corner, and kids everywhere are looking forward to consuming as many candies as possible in the smallest amount of time. For parents, it can feel like a nightmare – not only dealing with a sugar rush, but worrying about dental health too. Sugar is bad for you, right?
- What to avoid
In a sea of sugar it’s important to pick out the worst offenders. Any kind of sticky sweets are a big no-no – the stickiness means more damage for teeth, as the sugar stays in contact with teeth for longer. Likewise, hard sweets like lollipops are a bad idea because the sugar stays in the mouth for a longer period of time – not only that, but hard sweets can knock against teeth and damage them. Avoiding these treats is a good start in the fight against Halloween tooth decay.
- Why is sugar bad anyway?
While we all know that sugar is bad for teeth, most of us don’t really understand why. The fact is, bacteria naturally found in the mouth play a part.These bacteria feed on sugar and convert it into acid, which then attacks tooth enamel and causes decay. The more sugareaten, the more acid is produced. And, if food sticks to your teeth, this feeds the bacteria even more. Over time, when the decay reaches the dentin inside the tooth – then you’ve got trouble. By this point cavities start to develop, and your child might complain of a toothache or sensitivity to hot and cold. If left untreated, your child might need fillings or even (if the decay spreads) the removal of teeth.
- The better of a bad deal
It’s always going to be hard to dissuade kids from eating sweets, so the best idea is to steer them towards the kind that is less damaging for teeth. Top of the list is chocolate, and dark chocolate in particular. Dark chocolate is great because it contains less sugar and more polyphenols – chemicals that actually work against bacteria. If you’re in the supermarket, look for 70% cocoa – any higher and the chocolate may be too bitter for young tastes. Chocolate is also great because it washes off teeth easily. So, if dark chocolate isn’t an option, milk chocolate is a good second best.
- Other choices
It is possible to buy sugarless candies, though in reality these kind of sweets aren’t perfect either – there is usually a range of other chemical ingredients in there that don’t bode well for health. Chewy nut and cereal bars can be an alternative, as the nuts provide a balance against the overall sugar content
- The best choice of all
Of course, the ideal option will be if your child doesn’t eat any sweets or chocolate at all. However, in the real world that’s pretty unlikely. You can, however, try to encourage your child to eat fruit – nature’s natural sweets. Grapes, cherries and berries all provide a sweet hit and are fun to eat too. Whatever they eat, whether good or bad, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of candy your child has – and make sure they drink water and brush their teeth afterwards.
- Helping teeth
There are a few ways you can help teeth naturally ‘remineralise’ – that’s to say, help the tooth enamel mend itself. Saliva is key in washing the bad stuff off teeth, so chewing sugar-free gum or eating chewy vegetables will both be good ways to encourage saliva flow. Calcium also strengthens teeth for the long term. The best sources are milk and dairy, dark green leafy vegetables, and (surprisingly) canned fish like salmon.
Defending teeth against decay
One evening of overindulgence isn’t going to hurt anyone very much, but a poor dental routine definitely is. Make sure kids brush their teeth twice a day, and floss as often as possible. Get them to drink water, not soft drinks. Even sugar-free soft drinks contain acid so they’re best avoided. Visit the dentist such as Drs. Nicolas & Asp regularly, meaning every 6 months. And, last of all, don’t worry too much – Halloween is only for one night of the year!
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