Halloween might feel like a holiday made for creating tooth decay, but the truth is that it is actually a great time to teach your kids about how to prevent cavities and about making healthy choices. It is nearly impossible to avoid Halloween candy altogether, but there are some simple and fun ways in which you can minimize the sugar overload after trick-or-treating is over.
Brush Away the Treats
Whether your child eats one piece of candy or ten, it is essential to brush properly to prevent tooth decay. A brand new toothbrush is always a fun way to get your child excited about brushing. Be sure to drop one in your child's Halloween treat bucket, along with some floss, before they head out for the night.
After indulging in Halloween treats, have your child both brush and floss, since candy can easily get stuck between teeth. Remind your child of proper brushing techniques. Show him how to move the brush back and forth against his teeth and gums with short, gentle strokes and how to place the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline. Younger children will need your help to brush and floss thoroughly.
Make a Candy Plan
The best thing you can do to avoid going overboard with Halloween candy is to prepare ahead of time. Have a talk with your child about what the plan will be after the bucket is brimming with candy. It helps to give your child options from which to choose, such as whether they would like to keep the candy and parcel it out slowly or trade it in for a no-sugar reward. Another idea is to set a limit on the number of houses that you visit or to simply have your child fill a smaller bag. Regardless of what you decide, the most important part is to establish the rules beforehand. It can be especially helpful for younger children to repeat the conversation a few times.
Discussing your plan for Halloween candy is also a great opportunity to talk about the importance of limiting consumption of sweets. Explain to your child how to make healthy choices for one's body and teeth, what foods are the best for overall and dental health and how to prevent cavities with brushing and flossing.
Not So Sweet Rewards
There are a lot of alternatives to simply deciding whether or not you will allow your child to indulge in Halloween sweets. A candy swap is a great way to let your child enjoy the fun of trick-or-treating without overloading on sweets. The basic concept is to swap your child's candy for a non-candy treat, such as a toy that your child has wanted for some time or an activity he has wanted to try. You can also extend the swap by trading out small amounts at a time rather than the whole thing at once; for example, you can allow your child to pick one piece of Halloween candy a day but then give them the opportunity to do a daily trade for something as simple as a sticker.
Remember that Halloween does not have to be scary for dental health. Use it as a teachable moment to help your child learn about moderation and dental care. You will set your child up for a future of healthy choices.