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Ghouls and Goblins, Candy and…Cavities? Not This Year!

“This is Halloween, this is Halloween. Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! In this town we call home, everyone hail to the pumpkin song.”

Halloween is once again upon us, and you know what that means: all the ghouls and goblins, princesses and pirates, will be running around the neighborhood collecting stockpiles of candy. And while the costumes will be put away for another year come November 1st, the candy will be around for quite a bit longer. And for you parents, this can present a variety of health and safety challenges, some of which can get quite expensive if not taken care of properly. So, what can you do to prevent tooth decay and still allow your child to enjoy their stockpiles of loot? Here are 10 tips you can follow to help your child maintain a healthy smile this Halloween and year round:

1.   Eat candy and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after. Saliva production increases during mealtime, helping to cancel out acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.

2.   Avoid hard candies and other sweets that stay in your mouth for long periods of time. Unfortunately, this means no suckers or caramels. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time food stays in your mouth plays a huge role in tooth decay. Unless it’s sugar free, hard candies should be avoided entirely if you hope to prevent or decrease risk for tooth decay.

3.   Avoid sticky candies. Man, are we just ruining all the good stuff or what? Milk-Duds. Caramels. Gummy bears. Taffy. The stickier candies such as these take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing risk for tooth decay.

4.   Drink more water. Drinking water alone helps to keep up saliva production, but drinking fluoridated water can serve to protect the teeth especially well.

5.   Maintain a healthy diet. What you eat and how your whole body feels really does have an effect on your teeth and gums, so make sure you feed your body well and that it feels good at all times. Your teeth will thank you.

6.   Avoid drinks with added sugars. Soda, sports drinks, flavored waters, cool-aid…beverages that contain sugars increase your risk for tooth decay as much as foods do.

7.   Chew sugarless gum. You’ll know it’s sugarless if it has an ADA stamp of approval on it. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating helps to minimize risk for tooth decay because it increases saliva flow which, as we know, helps rinse the mouth and neutralize acids produced by plaque and bacteria.

8.   Brush twice a day. Now we’re getting down to the basics – so long as your child keeps up their twice-a-day brushing routine (with fluoridated toothpaste), they should be fine. Make sure they’re never using a toothbrush older than 4 months, or one with frayed bristles, as a frayed brush never does anyone much good!

9.   Don’t forget to floss! Candy is bad for your teeth as is, but letting particles of it and other foods sit between your teeth is basically inviting cavities in to stay. Floss to get between those areas that your brush’s bristles can’t reach.

10.Visit the dentist.When you visit us regularly, we teach you how to prevent future problems, stop current decay in its tracks and even undo mild decay before it becomes more severe. NOW is the time to visit the dentist, as this is the time of year children tend to eat the most sweets. Plus, if you have dental insurance and you haven’t used it up yet, you might as well make use of it before the year’s over.

From Lakeshore Family Dentistry, we wish you all a happy and safe Halloween! And don’t forget to stop by to show off your little ghouls and goblins, and to get your free toothbrush. If you don’t have time on fright night, post a picture on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lakeshore-Family-Dentistry/182934178406020

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