Stuffing Your Face at Halloween

Trick or TreatAt Halloween, we all know that many kids will probably return home with bags full of nuts, sweets and chocolate from trick or treating. As a parent, should you let them immediately stuff themselves and get it out of their system?

Shelbourne Clinic Dentist, Dr. Mark Kelly thinks it actually might not be such a bad idea.

“It is the frequency of eating sweets & chocolate and how ‘sticky’ they are, which are big factors in creating the risk of cavities,” he said.

Eating sweets and chocolate can change the pH balance of the mouth, making it more acidic, which can increase the risk of getting cavities. Each time the sweets are eaten, the acid environment in the mouth can take up to an hour to neutralise.

“If I eat a sweets now, the pH in my mouth will become acidic, and it will take 30-60 minutes for it to become normal,” says Mark. “If I eat 2 or 3 sweets or pieces of chocolate when I eat that first one, my mouth stays acid the same length of time that it would if I ate just a single piece. It’s still 30-60 minutes! If I keep eating sweets and chocolate throughout the day, there is acid in my mouth for a much longer period of time. The longer teeth are in an acid environment, the greater the risk they will become decayed.”

Mark says that there are a number of ways parents can reduce this risk while still letting their children enjoy the festivity.

“Parents can let kids eat a bunch of sweets now and a bunch later. But don’t let them have one piece now, then an hour later let them have another piece,” he said.

Meals are a good time at which to have treats as dessert because the production of saliva increases, which helps to wash away acidity in the mouth. Mark also recommends that parents have their children brush their teeth after eating sweets; if that’s not possible, tell their children to rinse their mouth with water three or four times after eating, which will help reduce acidity in the mouth.

When trick-or-treaters call to the door, Mark advises that parents avoid giving out the really sticky, chewy sweets, which stick to the teeth and promote cavities because they allow bacteria “to feed” for a longer time.

Ultimately, “we realise that it’s just not realistic to tell your child they can’t have sweets, biscuits, chocolate, fizzy drinks or other treats,” says Mark. “These are the things most of us enjoy and thats absolutely fine. It is important however to explain to children that moderation is the key. They must also be reminded to keep up their good dental hygiene practices.” 🙂

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