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Have a tooth-friendly Halloween

SIMCOE, ON, OCT. 22, 2008 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is urging local ghosts and goblins to have a “tooth-friendly” Halloween this year.

“Candy and Halloween seem to go together but sugar and teeth are not friendly companions,” noted Dental Hygienist Kim Casier.

Decay or cavities occur when sugars in foods and drinks react with the bacteria in plaque. Plaque is a thin, sticky film that keeps forming on your teeth and it contains many types of bacteria. Every time you eat or drink anything containing sugars, the bacteria reacts with the plaque to form an acid. This acid can attack the teeth and start to dissolve the enamel. These attacks can last for up to an hour after eating or drinking.

“If your children are going to pile up on Halloween candy, there are ways to reduce the impact on their teeth,” Casier said. She offers the following tips:

  • Agree on limits. Before Halloween. Talk with your kids and let them know how much candy they will be allowed to eat per day. There should be limits for their overall health, as well as their oral health. Setting limits in advance will avoid disagreements and disappointment later. Ration your children’s treats over several days. They can select a few pieces to have along with their healthy snack or at meals.
  • Divide and conquer. Parents can divide candy into categories such as “for school” or “at home” so that they can monitor brushing and candy intake. There are a few treats that kids should avoid if brushing immediately isn’t an option: lollipops, hard candy, toffees and jujubes, which stay in the mouth or get stuck in teeth.
  • Brush and floss after eating sugary treats. Parents should keep a close eye on how well kids are brushing, especially after Halloween. The length of time kids brush is also important. Using an egg timer is a great tool to ensure kids are brushing long enough, at least two minutes.

“There are also some fun alternatives to giving out candy at Halloween time,” Casier pointed out. These “treats” include:

  • Spider rings or vampire teeth.
  • Halloween stickers or temporary tattoos.
  • Halloween pencils and erasers.
  • Sugar-free gum.
  • Toothbrushes.

“No matter what you decide to give out this Halloween, remember to help protect your children’s teeth from cavities and maintain good oral health throughout the entire year,” Casier urged. “Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, eat healthy foods and nutritious snacks, and visit the dentist for regular checkups.”

Media contact:
Kim Casier, Dental Hygienist
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3249 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3249