Healthy dental habits
As your children make their way through their Halloween candy, be sure to emphasize healthy dental habits. Tooth decay and other issues can cause pain and discomfort for children. The CDC estimates that tooth decay affects more than 25 percent of children between the ages of 2- and 5-years-old and half of those ages 12-to 15-years old. The health insurer, Delta Dental, offers the following teeth tips for kids at Halloween:
- Limit the amount of chewy and hard candies kids eat. Hard candy is tough on teeth because it tends to be sucked on at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time. Chewy, sticky treats are damaging because they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down.
- Only allow kids to have candy in small portions at limited times, such as after a meal, as dessert or at regular snack times. Nearly 90 percent of parents say their kids consume Halloween candy this way. It's best to avoid letting kids snack on candy throughout the day.
- Kids should brush their teeth or at least rinse with water after eating sweets. Remember that high sugar diets are detrimental to oral and overall health, and children should always brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, floss once a day and visit the dentist regularly.
- Give kids something other than candy. Another option is to let children trade in their treats for a toy, and then donate the candy to the troops or a local dentist buy-back program. Some houses don't even pass out candy. In fact, nearly 25 percent of parents hand out non-candy items, such as toys, money or fruit.
And for more information on how to teach children to care for their teeth, visit www.nationwidechildrens.org/dental-teeth-and-gum-care.