SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI – Is it just a coincidence that the national dental hygiene awareness month is the same month as one of the biggest candy-consuming holidays of the year? Our team at Barnett-David Dental Group could only speculate about that. However, we do know that Halloween candy and sugary treats mean a higher risk of cavities, and we want to keep the patients at our family dentistry practice from getting them. Keep your teeth healthy this Halloween with these dental care tips.
The slogan for the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s annual dental hygiene awareness campaign is “Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew.” which is an easy way to remember the steps for proper dental hygiene. (http://www.adha.org/national-dental-hygiene-month)
“The single best way to make sure your child doesn’t develop dental caries or gingivitis is to help them establish good oral habits early,” says Dr. Kelly Barnett, who has been a Springfield, Mo. family dentist since 1984. “You can start when children are infants and add more responsibility and improve techniques as they get older.”
The American Dental Association recommends that people brush their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush. Children need to be supervised and assisted with their dental care until age 8 or 9 – when they should have the dexterity to manipulate the dental care tools.
“There are ways to make dental care easier and more fun for children,” says Dr. Tracy Davis. “Using a toothbrush with a timer helps them know how long they need to brush and choosing a toothpaste flavor they like helps encourage them to use it.”
Flossing or using an inter-dental cleaner like a hand held flosser or waterpik once a day is a very important part of keeping teeth healthy. Bacteria that causes cavities, bad breath and gum disease collect under the gum line and have to be removed every day.
“Flossing can be tricky for adults to master, so children will need plenty of time to practice and an adult to follow up to ensure they didn’t miss anything,” says Dr. Nick Matthews.
Dental floss comes in many different kinds: some are flavored, some are waxed and some are fluoridated. Different floss may be easier to use for certain people. Someone with sensitive gums or tightly wedged teeth may find a waxed dental tape, meaning the floss is flat, works best. Adding a fluoride mouth rinse gives teeth extra protection against plaque and helps keep bad breath at bay.
“Children are just as susceptible to bad breath as adults,” says Dr. Marc Barnett, a family dentist who specializes in restorative procedures like dental crowns and dental implants. “If they do, it may mean parents need to help them step up the dental care and make sure they are up-to-date on their professional cleanings and examinations.”
Finally, chewing sugar free gum after a meal stimulates the mouth’s most important natural defense against dental caries. Saliva helps fend off cavities, neutralize plaque acids, re-mineralize enamel and wash away food particles.
Trick Or Treat Tips
A few other things to keep in mind to have a healthy Halloween:
- Hard, sticky, chewy candies can break fixed dental and orthodontic appliances if they are not removable like Invisalign. Swap those types of candy out of the loot bag for softer options that won’t bend or break appliances.
- Instead of letting kids nosh on candy throughout the day, which would mean a constant barrage of bacteria in their mouths, let them have some candy and have them brush their teeth right away.
- Donate some of the candy to an organization like Operation Gratitude that ships care packages including candy to military personnel and their families.
- Set up a candy buy back at your house and let the kids “sell” candy back for cash or trinkets.