Spooky season is here‚ and with that comes lots of candy. While it's fun to indulge in a treat (or 10), we all know sugar can be bad news for your teeth. Here are some teeth-brushing and hygiene tips from Dr. Manav Malik of SmileWorks Kids Dentistry in Sarasota, so you and your kids can keep enjoying that leftover trick-or-treat stash.
Brush your teeth soon after eating candy.
Brushing your teeth is still the No. 1 way to prevent cavities. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristle brush and an American Dental Association-approved toothpaste. Place a pea-sized amount on your child's brush and watch them brush to ensure they reach all areas.
"I recommend a rule of two—brush two times a day for two minutes each time," says Malik. In addition, brushing after candy consumption will help keep teeth and gums healthy.
Use a fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. It can be found in many children's and regular toothpaste. Read the ingredient list to ensure your brand contains fluoride but, Malik says, make sure kids do not swallow toothpaste.
Drink plenty of water.
Water can flush away sugar that would otherwise stick to your teeth; it also rebalances your mouth's pH, it also rebalances your mouth's pH, which can be disrupted by the amount of sugar consumed.
Steer clear of hard candies or those that last in the mouth a long time.
These cause longer acid attacks on tooth enamel. Also, Malik says, limit the amount of sticky, chewy candies, like caramels, that can remain on a tooth's surface even after brushing.
Chew sugar-free gum.
This can increase saliva flow, which can help wash away bacteria and acid from eating candy. Pop a piece right after eating a couple fun-size chocolates, and choose gums that contain xylitol, a sugar substitute related to a reduction in tooth decay. Consuming four to 20 grams of xylitol per day—which is naturally found in fruits, berries and vegetables like mushrooms and lettuce—has been proven to have a positive effect on tooth and gum health.
Limit candy consumption.
While it's tempting to eat all the candy all at once, practicing moderation can help your gum line. Eat a few pieces with lunch or dinner as a dessert, and always brush your teeth after.
"Have kids pick out the pieces they'd like to keep, and offer up the rest to the 'Halloween fairy,' who will take the rest away," suggests Malik. "This allows kids to have choice while also limiting the amount of sugar they consume."
Schedule a dental cleaning.
Children and adults should visit the dentist once every six months for a regular cleaning and check-up. Scheduling appointments before or after Halloween will help ensure you don't have cavities and provide further advice for keeping teeth healthy.