Dentists suggest 'Tooth-to-Dos'
With 41 million U.S. “trick-or-treaters” hitting the pavement in 2010 (ages 5 to 14), The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry knows Halloween can be a frightful time for tiny teeth, from pulled sealants and fillings to damaged brackets and even broken teeth.
“Every time you eat or drink something with sugar in it you start a 15-minute acid attack. The bacteria takes that sugar and produces acid, which eats away at the enamel and causes the cavity,” said Dr. Rhea Haugseth, AAPD president.
Halloween “Tooth-to-Dos “from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:
—Establish Health Habits: First and foremost, parents need to be aware of and take care of their own oral health. Good eating habits, good oral health practices, and seeing the dentist on a regular basis will go a long ways towards ensuring children will have good oral health as well.
—Brush Before (and After): Tooth decay and cavities occur when sugar reacts to bacteria and dental plaque. Brushing before candy consumption reduces the amount of bacteria and plaque on which sugar can stick. And parents should help young children with the process. “Children really can’t brush by themselves unless they can do one of three things: they can write cursive, they can tie their shoe or they can cut up a steak on a plate,” said Haugseth. “Children younger than 8 or 9 years old usually don’t have the manual dexterity to brush or floss properly, so plan to keep a hand in the process for at least that long.”
—Hard Candy, Hard Time: Parents should not only monitor the amount of sugar a child consumes, but also how long they keep sweet treats in their mouths. Kids should finish candy right away, and limit chewy candies that stick to teeth and hard candies, which extend sugar exposure.
—Fight with Fluoride and Flossing: Fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay by as much as 50 percent and flossing prevents gum disease and tooth decay in between teeth. Teach children to brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss once a day as soon as the first two teeth come into contact.
—Monitor Candy Consumption: Ensure candy consumption is limited to a few pieces a day. Remember, balanced diet is one that includes cheese, fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meat, milk and yogurt. Haugseth recommends three meals a day and three snacks a day.
—Don’t be Afraid of the Dentist: With all of the sweet treats consumed around Halloween, now is a great time for parents to schedule a pediatric dental appointment for their children. Children should visit the dentist every six months for a check-up to avoid dental problems and keep smiles healthy.