Is Halloween Scary? It Is For Kid’s Teeth!
How to minimise the risks to your children’s teeth at this time of the year.
It isn’t long now to Halloween and, although perhaps bigger in the USA, Halloween is now becoming a firm favourite with children in the UK.
This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise as kids often enjoy scary things and then, of course, there are the sweets; free, and lots of them!
To a young child, being given a handful of sweets at the door is probably as exciting as it gets, but unfortunately most children don’t understand the harm that eating all those sweets can do to their teeth.
Halloween night on its own will not destroy teeth of course, and much tooth decay in younger children comes from poor long term diet and tooth neglect. As many kids ‘stash’ the sweets that they get at Halloween and eat them over a period of time, this longer term exposure to large quantities of sugar certainly poses a significant risk.
The parent’s role
We can’t expect children not to look forward to Halloween and very few parents will want to shield them from the fun, provided that it can all be done safely. Equally, whilst it is a good idea to educate your children about why eating too many sweets isn’t good for their teeth, you may not want to ban them from the fun altogether. Here, at the Confidental Clinic in Clapham, we believe that there is a middle way that works for children and also helps to protect their teeth.
Should they accept sweets?
In an ideal world, it would be great if children turned up their noses at anything that was harmful for their teeth. Sugar tastes great to kids (and many adults) though, so this isn’t likely to happen. What we can do is to teach our children to enjoy Halloween, but also be responsible about it. We can, for example, take away some of the emphasis on the sweets aspect of the event and spend some time with our children planning and helping them to make a great costume to wear rather than simply putting on a pre-bought mask. If they think they have the best scary costume, they will hopefully be delighted.
We can also encourage them not to just accept sweets, but, where offered, take a healthier gift to go with their sweet stash.
Inevitably, they will eat some of the sweets they are given whilst they are out trick or treating. We can probably do little about this, but, what we can do at the end of the night is to make sure that they brush their teeth really well, perhaps supervising them and especially if they are tired from the excitement of the night.
So, you have got through the evening, but there is probably a big bag of sweets still waiting to be eaten. Most children will probably want to eat those pretty quickly. A sensible approach though would be to ensure that they are only eaten a few at a time and only when they will be cleaning their teeth not too long afterwards. They may not initially thank you for that, but when their friends have run out and they still have a lot left, they may appreciate it more then.
Even though many of us are doing our best not to be wasteful in our consumption, the reality is that sweets have more or less zero nutritional value and you probably shouldn’t feel too bad about throwing them away. We aren’t saying that you should do this automatically, unless perhaps they have been naughty, but you could use them as a bargaining chip.
Kids love sugar but they also love to do other things as well. You could offer to swap their sweets for a day out somewhere, a trip to the cinema perhaps, or even to buy them a toy that they have wanted for a while. Especially if they have been eating them for a few days, they might be all too happy to take you up on the offer!
General oral care
Keeping our kids teeth healthy can, at times, feel like something of a battle. Not only do they often like to eat as much sugary food as possible but there are also the daily bumps and falls that could potentially damage their teeth. However well you help them, perhaps the best way to keep your kids teeth healthy is to make sure that they are seen by one of the child friendly dentists at our Clapham clinic on a regular basis. Our team are great with younger patients and, as well as treating any minor problems with fillings etc, can help them to better understand how to look after their teeth.
We hope that this time of year will not be too scary for your child’s teeth, and if you would like to arrange for your child to have a dental examination with us, you can call the Confidental Clinic on 020 7801 9060 to arrange an appointment.
Good luck and a Happy Halloween!