Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s that time of year when sweet treats seem to be everywhere! We’re here to share some “ghoulishly good” tips on how to take care of your teeth during Halloween while keeping the fun alive. But before we do that, we have a couple of relevant statistics to share with you.
Perhaps the most alarming part of Halloween is the amount of money spent on the occasion, with researchers estimating that Brits will spend £777 million in 2023 – up 13% from an estimated £687 million in 2022. A 2022 statistic also reveals that the average spend per person on sweets for Halloween was £18.6 with Haribo sweets contributing 46.8%.
The frightening effects of sugar
While it´s fine to indulge your sweet tooth once in a while, overindulgence of sugary treats can result in some scary short -and long-term consequences.
Sugar in food and fizzy drinks plays a major role in the development of tooth decay. Bacteria found in plaque utilises sugar for energy and releases acid as a waste product that gradually breaks down the tooth enamel. Consuming sugary treats, particularly sticky and chewy sweets allows harmful oral bacteria to gorge and produce more acid.
How to keep your child´s teeth healthy during Halloween
If your child is going trick-or-treating this year, chances are they’ll return with a stash of treats that are bad for teeth. They can still join in the fun of dressing up and going door-to-door, but there are a few simple things you can do to minimise the risk of sugar overload and damaging your kid´s teeth.
With this in mind, here are 10 healthy Halloween tips that can make a huge impact.
1. Choose wisely: When it comes to Halloween sweets, not all treats are created equal. The worst sweets for the teeth are those that are sticky or chewy (as they can cling to the teeth) or hard and crunchy like the coating of a toffee apple. It´s best to opt for chocolate which is easier to rinse off the teeth, reducing the risk of sugar sticking around and causing cavities.
2. Moderation is key: Encourage your children to enjoy their Halloween goodies in moderation. Designate specific times for treat consumption to help prevent continuous snacking throughout the day. Most dentists recommend limiting sweet treats to meal times. Why? Because saliva production increases when a person is having a meal, which means the mouth is better equipped to rinse away food particles. This, in turn, helps neutralise any acid produced by bacteria that attacks tooth enamel.
3. Scary good brushing: Make brushing teeth part of your child´s post-Halloween treats routine. Encourage them to brush their teeth for two minutes, ensuring they get all those sugary crumbs out of every nook and cranny. During Halloween, it´s a good idea to increase the frequency of brushing to a minimum of three times a day. If they don´t already floss their teeth, this might be a good time for your child to start.
4. Hold off brushing for 30 mins: No matter what type of sweets your child chooses, don´t insist they brush straight after eating. Instead, it´s best to swirl some water around in their mouth immediately after and wait about half an hour before brushing. So why is this? Right after we eat acidic or sugary foods, tooth enamel is weaker. Rinsing with water protects the weakened tooth enamel and kickstarts the process of remineralisation. Brushing too soon after eating can damage the tooth enamel.
5. Sugar-free alternatives: Keep sugar-free gum on hand as a Halloween treat option. Chewing sugar-free gum naturally makes the mouth produce more saliva. This, in turn, helps wash away harmful bacteria in the mouth, together with the sugars the bacteria feed on. Chewing gum can also dislodge food particles that get stuck between the teeth, making it easier to brush before bed.
6. Hydrate and rinse: Encourage your little witches and wizards to drink water while enjoying their Halloween treats. Water keeps them hydrated when they´re running around and helps wash away sugar and food particles, reducing the chance of cavities.
7. Choose fun giveaways that aren´t sweets: Halloween doesn’t always have to be about the sugar. Often the sweetest gesture at Halloween time might be an item that lasts longer like ghoulish stickers, colouring books and crayons.
8. Schedule a post-Halloween checkup: After the Halloween festivities are over, consider scheduling a dental checkup for your children. It’s a great way to ensure that any potential issues are caught early and addressed promptly.
9. Lead by example: Set a good example for your children by practising healthy Halloween habits yourself. Show them that enjoying treats can be done responsibly while still taking care of your teeth.
10. Teach good oral hygiene: Take the time to teach your kids about the importance of good oral hygiene. Explain why brushing, flossing, and regular dental examinations are essential for keeping their smiles spooktacular all year round.
Remember, Halloween should be a time of fun and enjoyment, and with these ghoulishly good dental habits, you can ensure that it stays that way without any scary surprises for teeth.
So go ahead, indulge in a treat or two, and keep those smiles shining brightly all season long!
Need a dental check-up? Call Hermitage Dental Practice on 01530 510533. We are accepting children under the NHS if they register alongside a private adult patient. We also offer dental plans to spread the cost of routine care.