As you know, Halloween is tomorrow – one of the most popular days of the year for kids nationwide, but also one parents fear. In addition to collecting large amounts of candy, kids also collect oral health issues.
The candy kids eat on Halloween is often the worst they could eat, including sticky, chewy candy like caramel and gummies that get stuck in the grooves of kids’ mouths and leads to tooth decay and cavities. Or, it is sour candy that is acidic and can break down tooth enamel. These are the candies parents should steer kids away from, replacing them with milk or dark chocolate and pretzels.
The Ad Council and the The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a coalition of more than 35 leading dental health organizations, are promoting “National Brush Day” on November 1. They want to teach parents and caregivers about simple ways in which they can help prevent oral disease and keep kids from consuming the worst possible types of candy over Halloween.
Here are a few questions that parents may ask about their kid’s oral health and Halloween candy.
1. What candy should parents be concerned about when it comes to children’s oral health?
Parents should help kids avoid eating chewy and sticky candy like caramel and gummies because they get stuck in the grooves and crevices of teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. They should also keep kids from eating acidic candies, which breaks down tooth enamel. The best candy kids can eat include Dark chocolate and sugar-free gum are better choices. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can inhibit bacteria from sticking to the teeth, preventing infections in gums and battling tooth decay. Sugar-free gum promotes the growth of tooth-protective, non-acidic bacteria, making it hard for bacteria and plaque to form.
2. How can we teach our kids how to prevent oral disease?
We should teach our kids about the importance of brushing for two minutes twice a day every day for healthy teeth. This prevents bacteria and plaque from building up, which helps ward off bad breath, and it helps keep teeth and gums healthy.
Here are some simple tips on how parents can teach their kids the importance of oral health:
• Kids take behavioral cues from their parents so be sure to set a good example by brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day. Try brushing your teeth with them, showing them the right way, and making it look like fun!
• Talk about healthy foods vs. junk foods, and the effect sugar can have on your teeth.
• Make brushing a fun activity rather than a chore. Try bringing in a stuffed animal to brush with them, timing brushing with a song or video, or turning it into a contest! Once they’re done, be sure to compliment them on what a great job they did.
• Set goals and reward positive behavior. Make a chart and let them mark off the days with a sticker or check mark. Reward regular brushing with something fun, like a special activity or trip.
3. Why is there a “National Brush Day?”
National Brush Day is observed in the United States on November 1, the day after Halloween, to reinforce the importance of children’s oral health and promote good tooth-brushing habits recommended by dental experts. On this day, parents are encouraged to make sure their kids brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day every day.
More Information about National Brush Day
Parents and caregivers can visit the campaign website 2min2x.org to find easy-to-use resources, and fun, educational content to help teach their kids about the importance of oral health. Content is available in both English and Spanish, and includes short two-minute videos that kids can watch while brushing their teeth, as well as the mobile gaming app “Toothsavers.”