Healthy Holidays: How To Practice Good Oral HygieneDid your little one collect buckets of candy for Halloween? While it’s fine for kids to enjoy their holiday treasures, you’ll want to make sure it is done in moderation and with good teeth hygiene!
Does all that Halloween candy have you worried about your little one’s teeth? While it’s fine for kids to enjoy their holiday treasures, you’ll want to make sure it is done in moderation and with good teeth hygiene! Allowing your children to enjoy a few occasional treats helps them learn that it’s okay to have fun and celebrate with special foods, but within reason. As a parent, you can help your child learn to practice good teeth hygiene from the start.
According to nutrition experts, it’s okay for children to eat some Halloween candy. After all, almost every child (and many adults) in the country consume candy on this special holiday! Allowing your kids to consume candy on special occasions won’t lead to a massive, out-of-control sweet tooth if done correctly.
Experts also say that giving kids plenty of access to their candy for one day only can be helpful in the long run. Large amounts of sugar consumed daily can set up a child for developing bad habits and giving into cravings. Even if that means a high amount of sugar is consumed on the holiday or day after, it’s most likely not going to harm your child or cause lifelong issues. What can be more harmful is making candy and sugary snacks a part of their everyday routine. You are the best judge of your child, so figure out what works best with their individual needs and personality.
When it comes to candy, parents do need to be cautious about a few things. Make sure your child never consumes candy that is not in the wrapper or the wrapper is damaged in any way. Also be sure to check the label for potential allergens as many popular Halloween candies contain allergens such as nuts and dairy. Cross contamination is also a risk, so read food labels carefully! And lastly, always keep choking hazards away from small children. Small, round candies can easily become a choking risk with a young child.
Here are a few simple ways to celebrate smarter:
- Choose wisely. Chocolate and cookies are better for the teeth than gummy worms, gummy bears, fruit snacks, and gum. Chocolate melts and is less likely to get stuck in the nooks and crannies of your child’s mouth.
- Consider the timing. Letting your kids snack on sugary treats and candy throughout the day can be more damaging to their teeth than consuming all the candy at once. The acid from sugar dissolves tooth enamel, but this is counteracted by our saliva. Saliva needs time to remove the bacteria from the teeth, but if sugar is constantly being consumed, the body doesn’t have a chance to properly protect the teeth.
- Be smart about cleaning. Around the holidays, be even more intentional about how you clean your child’s teeth. Pinpoint the spots where candy might get stuck, such as the molars, between the teeth, behind the front teeth, and under the gums. Consider using a mouth rinse or floss picks with older children who can be responsible for their own mouth hygiene. For young children, wipe the inside of the mouth clean with a wet washcloth.
If you have little babies, it’s never too early to start practicing good mouth hygiene - long before they get their first taste of candy, or any food for that matter!
Babies (0-3 months old): Most babies at this stage will not have teeth, but it is still important to keep their gums clean! You can simply wipe their teeth and gums with a wet washcloth (like the ultra-soft KeaBabies Wash Cloths), or use an infant toothbrush designed to be gentle on their sensitive mouths.
Babies (3-6 months old): By now, your baby’s first tooth might have erupted. You can continue using a wet washcloth to clean your baby’s mouth, or you can start using an infant toothbrush. Gently brushing your baby’s gums can help relieve teething pain as well.
Babies (6-12 months old): Your baby will start building a mouthful of teeth by now, which is perfect as they start eating solid food for the first time! Brush or wipe your baby’s teeth at least once per day once the first teeth emerge. You might also want to consider visiting a pediatric dentist as soon as your baby gets her first tooth.
Toddlers (1-2 years old): Your toddler most likely eats three meals a day and is becoming more independent. Continue brushing your toddler’s teeth twice daily, allow them to try brushing their own teeth, and ask your child’s pediatrician about fluoride toothpaste. Make a dentist appointment if your child hasn’t already had her first visit. If your baby doesn’t have any teeth by 18 months, make an appointment with a dentist to discuss why the teeth haven’t erupted.
Early childhood (3-6 years old): By now, your child is eating three meals a day and probably several snacks. Your child should brush their teeth twice daily with toothpaste. Teach your child to brush his own teeth, use only a small amount of toothpaste, practice spitting out the toothpaste, and be aware of foods that might get stuck in their teeth. Your child should visit a dentist twice per year.
Don’t stress about a few days of lots of sugary treats for your little ones - but try not to make a habit out of it! Set your children up for success by teaching good oral hygiene from an early age.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.