Here’s How To Protect Your Kids’ Teeth Over Halloween
Avoid dental horror with these top tips
29 October 2018
It’s a much-loved tradition that will see thousands of children across the country participating in this weekend.
But while eating lots of sweets and chocolates might seem like the ultimate treat on Halloween – the trick might actually be on parents when it comes to their children’s oral health.
According to a national dental survey almost one in 10 children will consume more than 10 Halloween sweet treats this weekend – going well above the recommended daily sugar allowance of 24g for children aged 7-10.
While the impact this has on weight is pretty well known, are we as aware of the damage excessive sugar consumption could have on children’s teeth?
When we consume something sugary, the acidity levels in our mouth rockets and it can take up to 60 minutes for our saliva to neutralise the acid and allow the pH to return to a normal and healthy state.
During that time, our teeth are at serious risk of enamel erosion which can cause long-term damage and even loss of teeth if not properly managed.
In children, this poses even more of a problem as their teeth may not yet be fully developed and therefore more sensitive when exposed to high levels of acidity.
So, without forcing children to miss out on the fun this Halloween, what can parents do to help limit the damage?
1. Put a ban on sweet grazing
Over the Halloween period, it’s common for kids to continually graze on their treats throughout the day or over a full weekend – which means that the acidity levels in their mouths are repeatedly spiking, without having enough time to recover.
This essentially prolongs the time their teeth are under an attack from acid.
So, while many parents are often used to drip feeding children with little treats here and there – when it comes to protecting teeth, it’s actually much better to consume a healthy amount in one go, then letting the pH levels return to normal.
2. Consume sweets and chocolate after a meal
If you’re going to give your kids chocolate, keep it to a minimal amount and coincide it with a meal so that it’s limited to just once or twice a day – rather than continuous grazing.
3. Don’t rinse after brushing
For most of us, rinsing after we brush is second nature, but this can actually wash away the fluoride in our toothpaste.
Fluoride is an essential mineral that helps prevent tooth decay – especially in children. If it is rinsed away, we won’t fully benefit from its tooth-supporting properties.
4. Wait an hour before brushing after sweets
Lots of parents think it’s fine to treat their children to sweets, providing they brush their teeth straightaway when they’re done.
However, this isn’t strictly true - the saliva in our mouth is actually really important in helping neutralise the acid, so by brushing straightaway, we’re not giving it chance to do its job.
5. Supervise brushing
A third of British parents (31%) admit their children only brush their teeth for a minute or less – rather than the recommended two minutes.
Make the effort to supervise your children when they are brushing so there’s no cutting corners.
6. Visit the dentist regularly
It might sound obvious, but making sure your child has regular trips to the dentist is really important.
Unless otherwise advised, you should be aiming for a minimum of two trips a year.
Remember: Dental decay is entirely avoidable providing you look after your children’s teeth, and regular visits to the dentist are crucial in supporting this.