It's that time of year again!
Time for us to come together as a community and parade around in our smiles to celebrate National Dental Hygiene Month!
Oh, and it's Halloween too.
Perhaps you don't plan special events like parading around town for National Dental Hygiene Month, especially since October is more well-known for that fun holiday of Halloween, but here are 5 tips that can help you protect your little one's teeth during this time of high candy consumption.
1. Choosing candy. It's not fair to ask kids (or their parents) to avoid sweets completely. However, it is a good idea to know which candies put your teeth at the highest risk of cavities.
When consuming foods that contain sugar, typically the length of time that it is in your mouth plays a role into the development of cavities (that's not factoring in how often those foods are consumed). So, it's better to choose candies that will not sit in your mouth very long. For example, a lollipop sits in your mouth longer before being consumed when compared to chocolate, which quickly dissolves.
So, watch out for chewy/sticky candies (takes longer to be washed away by saliva and can get stuck in tough crevices to clean) and hard candies (stay longer in your mouth). Also, watch out for sour candies, which are highly acidic and can wear away your tooth enamel.
Sugar-free candies are also a great alternative!
2. The right timing. There's a better time to eat candy to reduce cavity development? Yes! Eating these sweets either at mealtime or shortly thereafter can be a better time because your saliva production increases at mealtimes. Saliva is your body's natural defense against the development of tooth decay as it helps cancels out any acids and washes away the bacteria.
3. Drink a nice, refreshing glass of water. As saliva is the body's natural defense, water is a great preventive measure too. Water can wash away bacteria and help if you have a dry mouth (which means a low saliva production).
Fluoridated water is also available. Fluoride can help prevent cavities, which is why dentists typically recommend regular fluoride treatments for kids.
4. Chomp away. Sugar-free gum has been shown to also be a great way to prevent cavities as well. The process of chewing gum increases saliva production in your mouth. Sugar-free gum is better than regular gum because it does not add to the sugars and bacteria that is already in your mouth.
5. Two minutes, twice a day. Even if you avoid all sweets, you are still at risk for tooth decay without taking other preventive measures. The most fundamental preventive measures are brushing for two minutes and brushing and flossing twice a day (at least!). If you decide to eat any sour candies, be sure to wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. Brushing before the 30 minute mark can cause the acid to be brushed over more surfaces.
Want another good preventive measure? Visit your dentist on a regular basis!
Happy Dental Hygiene Month!
"10 Tips for a Healthy Halloween." Mouth Healthy. American Dental Association (ADA), n.d. Web. 20 July 2016.