Trick-or-treating is the highlight of Halloween for most children, but excessive candy consumption can be harmful to a child’s dental and physical heath. Halloween doesn’t have to be a sugar-laden free-for-all. There are many ways to limit your child’s sugar intake without a making a scary scene.
- Collect Less Candy – Limit the amount of candy your child collects by having her use a smaller treat bag and calling it quits once the bag is filled. You can also set a time limit on her trick-or-treating or visit only houses within a certain walking distance.
- Trade Candy For Cash – Many dentists participate in a candy buyback program. If yours doesn’t, consider forking out some of your own cash in exchange for your kid’s candy, then donate the stash to a local shelter or a branch of the military.
- Plan a Visit From the Candy Fairy – If your child is too young to be interested in cash, consider swapping the loot for a toy they have had their eye on. Instruct your child to leave the goodies in a special location, and make the trade while they are asleep.
- Ration the Goodies – Let your child pick out a few of his favorites on Halloween night, then store the rest out of sight and out of reach. Pack one small piece in his or her lunch each day, or save it to dole out only on special occasions.
- Pass Out An Alternate Treat – You can do your part to limit junk food in your neighborhood by passing out something other than candy. Stock up on stickers, glow sticks or another prize to give away, and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
However you choose to prevent sugar overload this holiday, be sure your child knows what to expect beforehand. Fill her up with a healthy dinner before she begins knocking on doors, and allow a little indulging before the night is over. Have a plan for the rest of the candy, and no matter how late your little ghoul is up, don’t send her to bed without brushing!
While you might have a basic understanding of tooth decay, there’s likely much about the topic you don’t yet know. A deeper understanding of your oral health allows you to know when you have a problem that is likely to take care of itself and when you have one that requires a professional treatment from a dentist. Learn more about tooth decay and how to take the best care of your pearly whites.
Age Makes a Difference in Tooth Decay
One of the first things to know about tooth decay is that it’s more common now than ever in children and babies. A child’s teeth aren’t as developed or strong as an adult’s, so acids, plaque and bacteria will eat away at their teeth. Eating and drinking habits for small children also impact oral health, with many parents not realizing the harmful effects of giving a child a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk or juice when they go to sleep, or to drink throughout the day. Snacking on things like fruit snacks, starchy crackers, or sugary treats throughout the day—called “grazing”—is also harmful to a child’s teeth.
Recognizing the Signs of Tooth Decay
Knowing what tooth decay looks like is another essential component of treating it. Indications of tooth decay include:
- Discolored teeth
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Inflammation of the gums around a sore tooth, which is also a sign of an abscessed tooth
- An ongoing or recurring toothache
Properly Diagnosing Tooth Decay
To rule out an abscess and anything else that might be going on with your teeth, your dentist will make sure you actually have tooth decay in order to prescribe proper treatment. You’ll likely be asked questions about your medical and dental history before the dentist uses a small mirror to examine your teeth. You might also have X-rays taken of your mouth and teeth to better pinpoint which of your teeth may be decayed. Common treatments for tooth decay that has worked through tooth enamel include fillings, crowns, tooth extraction and root canals.
Oral health is a large component of your overall health. By taking good care of your teeth, you’re taking equally good care of the rest of your body as well.
When it comes to the health of your teeth and gums, you may just think that as long as you brush and floss every day your mouth will be perfectly healthy. However, you also need to maintain a healthy diet to keep your pearly whites in pristine condition. Something that should absolutely be part of a balanced diet is folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9, and without it, you could be facing some serious health risks.
Folic acid assists with cell repair, so if you are at risk of developing gum disease, then it can help combat the disease by helping repair the cells in your gums. A surprising number of Americans (almost 50 percent) have some form of gum disease, whether it is gingivitis or periodontitis, so Vitamin B9 should be taken daily. Folic acid is water soluble, meaning it cannot be stored in the body, so you need to consume some every day in order to take advantage of the benefits.
Although more research needs to be done, many experts believe there is a link between pregnant women who do not take enough folic acid and the presence of certain birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate. These issues can necessitate speech therapy or surgeries later in life, so many dental professionals recommend pregnant women err on the side of caution and take in plenty of Vitamin B9 during their pregnancy.
It is fairly easy to consume enough folic acid to avoid these issues. It can be found in numerous food sources, including:
- Sunflower seeds
- Romaine lettuce
Additionally, folic acid can also be found in numerous fortified breads and grains, so you can also get it through cereal or pasta. To make sure you are getting enough, check food labels to see how much you are getting in a single serving. It is an important vitamin, and you should take enough in your day-to-day life.
Healthy teeth start with healthy habits. The simple oral care habits that are part of your daily routine actually go a long way towards protecting your teeth and gums against a range of preventable dental problems. Taking care of your teeth requires only a few basic tools and a little know-how.
Protect Your Mouth Against Plaque
Gum disease (gingivitis) is cause in part by the plaque that builds up on your teeth near the gum line. This hard layer is formed by bacteria which flourish by feeding on the food particles that should be cleared away with brushing. Over time, the layer of plaque causes the gum line to recede. Your gums might feel swollen and tender or might bleed slightly after brushing. These are a few signs that plaque is starting to win.
While daily brushing is essential for keeping your mouth healthy, using a toothbrush and toothpaste alone is often not enough to keep plaque at bay. In addition, you should add flossing at least once a day, and make sure you are regularly visiting your dentist, since s/he has specialized tools and treatment options to remove hard-to-reach plaque, and the plaque that has hardened to become tartar.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Even though daily dental care habits will go a long way towards preventing gum disease, regular checkups with your dentist will help ensure a lifetime of good oral health. During your checkup, your dental care team will:
- Remove the tough layer of plaque that has built up since your last cleaning
- Check for cavities and places where cavities might develop
- Identify any chips or cracks that need repairing
- Provide personalized guidance to help you care for your teeth
Dentists recommend that most patients see them for checkups and cleaning twice a year, although that can vary depending on your own personal oral health needs. This will help prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.
What you eat can have a major effect on the health of your teeth and gums. Most people already know about things to avoid, such as coffee and tea that can stain your teeth, or sugar foods that feed bacteria in the mouth. But what about foods that actually help your mouth remain healthy and keep teeth enamel strong? This is what you need to know about how food choices play an important role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Drinking plenty of water is a great way to naturally clean teeth because water can help wash away build up or particles in the mouth. Staying hydrated also ensures that your mouth is producing the saliva it needs to clean teeth and properly break down food for digestion.
Fruits and Vegetables
You may have heard people refer to apples as “nature’s toothbrushes” before, and in a way this is true of many crunchy fruits and vegetables. These foods have a high water content which helps wash away the sugars that are also contained in the food. The firm texture of many fruits and veggies also helps naturally clean tooth enamel.
Dairy foods like milk and cheese contain calcium which helps build strong tooth enamel. The minerals in dairy foods also help the body create new layers of enamel on teeth.
Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
Sugar is one of the worst things for oral health because an accumulation of sugar in the mouth leads to a buildup of bacteria. If you have a sweet tooth that you just can’t seem to get rid of, however, there may be hope in the form of sugar substitutes. Substitute sugars like saccharin, advantame and aspartame are thought to be safe for oral health because they generally do not produce the same acids that cause decay as regular, naturally-occurring sugars do.
Eating right most of the time doesn’t just help keep your mouth healthy, it also helps promote good health overall.