Halloween is around the corner which means that supermarket shelves are stocked with costumes, decorations and most of all, sweets. However, it’s also important that we do everything in our power to help avoid dental decay, especially when it comes to our loved ones.
This is a key time to deliver some important messages, especially after recent news from the Royal College of Surgeons, which indicated that tooth extractions for pre-school children have surged by 24% in just 10 years. With horrifying facts like this, perhaps it’s not the costumes we should be fearing this Halloween. This astronomical number is not only unacceptable, but it’s also easily avoidable.
Increased sugar consumption combined with ineffective and unsupervised brushing are the leading factors to the dental health crisis currently happening in the UK and as Halloween quickly becomes a permanent date in our calendars, more children will be capitalising on the opportunity to eat their favourite junk food.
Whilst these statistics might be terrifying, parents can still keep the fun in Halloween by allowing little ones to enjoy sweets wisely. Here are some tips on how to avoid the possible terror of tooth decay this season.
1) Most people don’t realise it’s not the amount of sugar we eat but how often we eat it that has an effect on our teeth. The most important thing to remember is to eat all sugary foods during meal times and not to eat more than three sugary snacks per day. Give children one sweet treat for dessert immediately after lunch and dinner to keep teeth healthy.
2) Brush twice a day, once in the morning and again at bedtime, and always supervise children, especially those under seven. Make it fun for them by using a Halloween-themed sticker chart to mark when they’ve completed brushing. Ensure children brush for two minutes each time to beat nasty plaque. Have an egg-timer to keep on track and challenge your little ones to run out the clock.
3) Toothpaste can be magical if you use the right kind. Children over seven should use toothpaste with 1350-1500ppm of fluoride whilst those under seven should stick to no more than 1000ppm of fluoride. Remember, young ones only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste but not to rinse with lots of water because it will wash away the fluoride, making it less effective.
4) Visit the dentist or hygienist regularly, beginning when your child’s milk teeth appear. This will help children to become familiar and help prevent decay and identify any risks from an early age.
Author: Anna Middleton, Dental Hygienist, London Hygienist