Healthy Smiles Premier Dental
Halloween is the scariest night of the year when it comes to tempting people of all ages to indulge in candy and sweet snacks. It kicks off a season that ends New Year’s Day when there are lots of get-togethers with family and friends where we excuse breaking good diet habits as necessary to avoid being labeled party poopers.
Of course, it’s hard to get back to eating right after that splurge, just as it’s hard to keep New Year’s resolutions. For kids especially, since they don’t really appreciate how important good oral health practices are, it is important to help them avoid painful cavities and big dental bills.
Have a Gentle Reminder About Cavities
Before they go trick-or-treating or attend Halloween events, remind them just how bad cavities can be and ways to minimize the odds of having them develop. If they have never had one, tell them a cavity is another word for a hole in a tooth created by the acid from bacteria that thrive on sweet snacks. It can feel like being poked in the mouth by a knife, but often is not painful until it’s too late to stop it.
Let them know a cavity can even kill a tooth so that it has to be extracted. Do they want to risk having surgery to remove a tooth? Do they want to have to do extra chores for a very long time or get a job to help pay for this?
Three Ways to Lower Cavity Risk
Tell them there are three ways to avoid these disasters. One is to agree to minimize eating a lot of candy right away–most of what is brought back should be saved and doled out gradually.
Second, get them used to eating healthy candies, snacks, and desserts made sweet by Xylitol, which actually fights oral bacteria. You can find gum and other things made with it or buy it by the bag for your homemade cookies and treats. Alternatively, help them develop a taste for sweeteners that are healthier than white sugar or high fructose corn syrup: stevia, monk fruit, honey, allulose, agave, or erythritol. At the same time, encourage them to eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, seeds, beans, proteins, and healthy fats, all of which will help keep blood sugar stable and minimize the urge for sweets.
Most importantly, train everyone in your family to always follow snacks and sugary sodas by drinking water to wash away the food particles that could attract bacteria. Make sure all know exactly how to brush their teeth after breakfast or lunch and then after the last snack of the night, when teeth also need to be flossed. Properly done, these habits will save everyone from a lifetime of cavities and gum disease.
And be sure children and adults have a dental hygienist do a professional cleaning twice a year, since she has the tools and techniques to clean off plaque, the bacterial film that forms around food particles, which can turn into hardened tartar, which is even harder to remove.
Following these guidelines, your family can have an even sweeter holiday season without the dental bills.