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With Halloween coming up, parents may be concerned about the oral health of their children. While collecting vast amounts of candy is part of the holiday's tradition, dentists and dental health care professionals have offered tips to help counteract the effect of sweet consumption.
The following 6 tips can help you to keep your child's dental health in good condition this Halloween.
1. Snack less
"If children do not snack often, there is no food that is really bad for their teeth," said Warren Brill, D.D.S., president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. "In fact, many parents may not realize that children's dental health depends less on what they eat and more on how often they eat it."
With this in mind, dentists recommend to make sure kids snack in moderation - that is, no more than three times a day. It's ideal that they brush after each snack, but if you can't get them to do that, at least have them swish water in their mouth to help clean and make sure that food does not stay on the teeth. When food particles do stay on the teeth, the production of acid by bacterial plaque on the coats of the teeth is increased. This process leads to tooth decay.
2. Eat sweets with meals
It's been discovered that foods with sugar or starch are best consumed with a meal, rather than as a snack on their own. The Canadian Dental Association recommends having sweets at the end of the meal while there is still plenty of saliva in the mouth, which washes away the sugars and acids. Drinking a glass of water after having candy will also help wash away the sugars.
3. Consider candy alternatives
There are ways to phase candy out when it comes to Halloween. The Canadian Dental Association recommends having your child trade in a certain amount of candy for a new book or video game. Donating candy to places like women?'s shelters or soup kitchens will also help your child understand the benefits of moderation.
There are also many alternative treats parents can give to visitors. With all the sugar-free candy on the market, including sugar-free gum and chocolate, parents concerned about child tooth decay have options. There are also non-edible treats that can replace sugary candy, like fake tattoos and Halloween-themed pencils and erasers. How about a pair of vampire teeth, or maybe even a toothbrush and some floss?
4. Brush twice
It's recommended that children brush for two minutes, twice each day. The optimal times to brush are after breakfast and before bed. Dentists recommend that parents supervise the brushing of school-age children until they reach age 7 or 8, or about the time they can tie their own shoelaces or write in cursive.
5. Use the right equipment
Toothbrushes with soft, round-ended bristles offer the best clean while being gentle on gums. The handle should be the appropriate size to fit your child's hand. The American Dental Association notes that children's toothbrushes usually need to be replaced more often than adult toothbrushes, which are usually replaced every 3 to 4 months.
6. Seek routine dental care
If your child hasn't been to dentist in a while, now is a great time to make an appointment. The earlier dental care is started in young children, the less likely serious problems will occur. Having a pediatric dentist take a look at your young ones can help you encourage them to take better care of their teeth at home. Those who have children in need of dental care but lack dental insurance or the finances for treatment should check out other options, like discount dental plans.
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