Sugar is big business at halloween
With Halloween looming on the near horizon, supermarkets are busy persuading us to purchase vast quantities of sweets to delight little trick or treaters on our doorsteps. The influence of our American friends means this celebration of all things spooky and sweet seems to become bigger and more elaborate each year. And this means kids teeth potentially being exposed to as much sugar in one night than they would normally consume in weeks.
One big step forward, in my view, is that it’s become accepted practice in many areas for a household to actively demonstrate a willingness to participate by placing a pumpkin, or some such similar Halloween-type signal near the doorway. If no such sign is seen, then the groups of tick or treaters pass by that house, which seems a great way to ensure those who don’t want to be bothered by it, simply aren’t. It does seem that the vast majority of houses do get involved though.
It would certainly be going against the grain to begrudge our kids the fun of dressing up and traipsing from house to house to see what treats they can extract. However, sticky toffee apples, chews and sugar-filled sweets are a potential real nightmare for those little teeth and my sons literally end up with buckets of the stuff.
Why does it matter?
Sugary food and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. Acid is produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar. The acid dissolves the tooth surface, which is the first stage of tooth decay and this can affect overall general health.
Tips to limit sugar damage
Here are a few tips suggested by the Oral Health Foundation to try to limit dental damage and ensure Halloween is a positive event for you and your family:
- Stop the sugary intake at least an hour before they brush their teeth and go to sleep
- Whilst it may seem to make sense to brush straight after eating sugar, try to avoid this
- Since the acid formed when sugar meets the bacteria in dental plaque weakens the enamel (top surface of the teeth) of a child’s teeth, brushing straight away can cause even more damage because you’d be brushing away the weakened surface. Give their teeth time to recover before brushing
- Ensure they use a fluoride toothpaste right before they go to sleep. See why fluoride really does offer the best protection here
- Provide still water and milk to drink and rinse around their mouths straight after sugary snacks to reduce the amount of sugar attacking their teeth
- It may go against what we parents were taught, but latest thinking is that it’s best not to rinse after brushing to allow the fluoride in toothpaste to do its job