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How To Keep Children’s (And Your) Teeth Healthy Around Halloween

halloween-sweets
(Image credit: Unknown)

The first thing you should do after your kid consumes their Halloween haul of sweets and chocolate is NOT clean their teeth.

“Never brush your teeth just after eating sugary or acidic food or drink!” says Dr Jerome Sebah, ambassador for oral health brands Arm & Hammer (opens in new tab) and Waterpik (opens in new tab). “The enamel is getting attacked by the acid so the tooth is more fragile. It is best to rinse with water and wait 30 minutes after the last sweet before brushing.”

If that came as a shock to you, then you should definitely read on for more advice from Sebah on keeping young teeth and gums in good shape…

What are the impacts of too much sugar on children’s teeth?

Tooth decay is the main problem. Some of the bacteria in the mouth eats sugar to produce energy and grow in number. They produce an acid that first destroys the crystals in the enamel, which is 92% mineral. The second layer in the teeth – the dentin – is only 70% mineral, so it is much easier for the acid from the bacteria to destroy.

Once the dentin is affected it can reach the nerve and cause a toothache. If a child is complaining from toothache, it could be too late. If lucky, the child could get a filling to fill the hole, but in most cases the nerve needs to be removed or the tooth extracted.

Are there any sweets that are worse for your teeth than others?

Sticky, sour sweets are the worst because they combine acid and sugar, which sticks to the teeth, especially in between the teeth where it’s hard to reach with the toothbrush. Caramel toffees are also a culprit, having both sugar and stickiness.

Is a one-off binge on Halloween likely to damage teeth?

It is better to have a one-off binge on Halloween instead of having a consistent regular intake of sweets.

Do you have any advice on how many sweets kids should eat in general?

If kids have sweets close to their mealtime, that is OK because they will brush their teeth not long after. The main problem is snacking on sweets during the day.

It’s better to have ten sweets just after dinner because you will be brushing your teeth just before going to bed – that’s if you’re able to sleep from the sugar rush! This is better than eating one sweet five times during the day, because the prolonged period of acidic erosion will have a worse effect.

Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.