(Note although this post is written for parents with trick-or-treaters, it applies to anyone with teeth who is eating candy tonight. ;-))
It's Halloween! Yeah!
Your kids are all excited about candy! Yeah!
And the mouth bacteria in your kid's mouth are excited! Yeah.. Oh no! Boo!
Hey, let's put away the dentist grinch talk today.
With a kid of my own, I totally get all the enthusiasm: Halloween Night is the "Superbowl of Candy-Eating". And just like you wouldn't send a football player onto the field without protection, as your self-appointed Halloween Candy Coach (well, you are reading my blog ;-)), I can't send your kids or mine out into Halloween without protection. So let me treat you to a dentist's trick.
By taking 3 simple actions today, your kids and you could have a pretty much guilt-free candy-full Halloween! These 3 simple steps will vastly decrease the chance your kids will get tooth cavities on Halloween night. ( Now that's a Boo-yeah!)
Best of all it will only take you 10 minutes total!
Like any game with a coach, the way we roll into a Halloween Cavity Smackdown City is to start with a brief game strategy: Just who are the enemy and how do they destroy our kids teeth?
(Don't care how it works? Skip to the next section for the 1-2-3 punch.)
All You Need To Know about Cavities: The "Sugar B.A.T." Principle
Sugar B.A.T. is my mneumonic helping you to remember how cavities appear and grow:
Sugar > Feeds Bacteria ---> Bacteria Poop Acid --> Acid Erodes Tooth Enamel
You'll see in a minute how this fits into our Halloween Night Battle Plan: If we can shut down those Bad Guy Bacteria from appearing and eating we can smackdown tooth cavities. (If you want a little more detail on how the bad-guy plaque and bad-guy bacteria conspire to make cavities, you can go view my earlier edutaining cartoon slide show.)
But let's forge ahead...Halloween Eve is approaching! The bats are starting to flap their wings!
Three Steps Toward Halloween Cavity Prevention
Before Trick Or Treat Time
Step One: Brush and Floss Kid's Teeth before they go out the door.
We tend to think of brushing AFTER eating. Well, that's not wrong, but it isn't completely right either. It turns out Evil Bacteria hang from itty bitty ladders or webs built by Evil Plaque on your teeth. When you brush and floss, you take down thee ladders created by bacterial plaque. This means fewer bacteria are hanging on the teeth to eat Halloween candy sugars. And so fewer poop their acid onto your kids' tooth enamel. So that's the reason it makes sense to brush BEFORE you eat.
Now after you've packed your younguns out the door with their super-clean teeth, sit back and relax. Reward yourself with the best (aka more teeth-safe) Halloween candy: Chocolate! *
As your Halloween Candy Coach, I tell you have only two more things to do when they come home.
After Trick Or Treat Time
Step 2. Safety-Check the Candy Haul: Play "Find the Tooth-Eater Monster Candies".
Most of you are going to check over the kids' candies for safety reasons anyway, removing suspicious items. But here are two suspects you may not be aware of, namely, the two candy types tooth bacteria most crave.
Tooth-Eater Monster Type 1: Slow Dissolving Candies
It turns out it's not how much candy you eat, it's how long you allow sugary foods to stay close to your teeth. Lollipops, jaw-breakers, Jolly Ranchers -- their sugars all snuggle up with teeth for far too long. And that's when the tooth-eater monsters come out.
Tooth-Eater Monster Type 2: Sticky, Chewy Candies
Sticky and chewy candies simply stick around too long on the teeth. These bad boys - taffy, caramel and gummie candies - can even pull out fillings and crowns.
Believe me - removing these tooth-eater monsters still leaves your kids (and you!) with a huge variety of candy to eat. (Note you can make a game of this for older kids by letting them help you identify and removing these Tooth-Eater Monster Candies from the pile.)
Step 3. Kill the Last Monster with a Tooth Brush Before Bed.
One last tooth brushing (and flossing) of your little ones will allow you to go to bed without worries. If your kids "get it" that sugar is a kind of "Tooth-Eater Monster", you can make brushing the weapon to kill the last monster before bedtime. ;-)
Now go out there and eat some candy...after you brush. ;-)
* It turns out chocolate melts so quickly, the sugars dissolve and are washed away almost immediately.