With Halloween a time of childhood magic (trick or treat anyone?), no-one wants to be THAT mother who excludes her little one from the lolly-fest. So how can we let our kids enjoy their sweets without worrying about their health? Jessica Jane Sammut unveils four simple ways.
Each year, when Halloween approaches, I start to get the guilts. Not because I don’t like dressing up (I love a good scary witch costume as much as the next mama). But because I know my adorable little boy is going to want to stuff his cute chops with sugary lollies for days on end, while I tell him ‘no more’ and run after him with a toothbrush. Cue bad old ogre (no witch costume necessary) and tears before bedtime. And don’t even get me started on the Christmas season … It’s like an endurance course for teeth (and motherhood)!
With sugar acids from the regular consumption of sugary food and drinks the number one cause of tooth decay in Australia (listed as the most common chronic disease in children, with child oral health getting worse according to the stats), I can’t help but feel it is my duty as a parent to protect my son’s teeth.
And it’s not just the tooth decay that worries me – it’s all the other things that go with it, including scary dental work, a loss of confidence, and even problems with adult gnashers coming through (with the space-saving milkies unable to do their job properly when broken-down).
Usually, as a family, we live a healthy lifestyle, but during such special celebratory occasions, I find it tough to deny my little man the fun of taking part. And I know I am not alone with Colgate research showing that 72 per cent of Aussie parents also finding it hard to get their children to eat less sugary foods generally, while a whopping 22.3 million extra sugary treats are estimated to be consumed by Aussie children over the Halloween period in itself! Tooth decay is a common concern for all (all except our children, that is!).
So, it with great relief that a recent major breakthrough in dental technology has calmed my fears somewhat (see point one below), and with this in mind, here are my four simple ways to protect our little ones’ teeth (without encountering a small person meltdown), and survive the Halloween season:
THE RIGHT TOOTHPASTE
In a huge leap forward for dental care, those magicians of preventative dentistry this year launched Colgate® Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser™. One word:Hallelujah! The first and only family toothpaste in the world with a unique technology that fights the sugar acids in plaque that cause cavities and tooth decay, this is now my go-to godsend for my son’s teeth.
Having been using the toothpaste on him for a few months, I can honestly say he enjoys using it! With particularly vulnerable teeth, we always have to be super vigilant with him, so knowing I don’t have to worry quite so much has certainly taken the pressure off us both.
With tooth decay an almost entirely preventable disease (according to the Australian Dental Association), with the number one cause of tooth decay the consumption of sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis, the breakthrough toothpaste has been clinically proven to reduce early decay by half!
Interestingly, it works differently to other toothpastes as it de-activates sugar acids in plaque BEFORE they get a chance to do any harm, plus it simultaneously strengthens and restores the enamel to help prevent the formation of cavities. Talk about pocket rocket!
As a family toothpaste that’s suitable for anyone over the age of six years (littler ones should use a toothpaste specially formulated for young children), I, for one, am totes over the moon that such a productis now available, as I can let my son indulge in the odd treat without the stress. Much like I slather factor 50 sunblock on my little boy’s skin to protect it from UV to maximum effect, using Colgate® Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser™ on his teeth means I feel he has the highest level protection possible from tooth decay. Too easy! Slip, slop, brush!
BRUSHING TEETH NIGHT AND DAY
A good oral care routine is also extremely important. Ensuring children’s teeth are brushed first thing in the morning and last thing at night (at the very least) helps keep bacteria clear from gums and teeth.
“During periods such as Halloween, when there is an increase in sugar consumption, regular brushing to remove sticky sugar from around children’s teeth, and even using a toothpaste with sugar acid neutralising technology, can be useful in minimising possible long term damage,” adds Dr. Sue Cartwright, Scientific Affairs Manager of Colgate Oral Care. “Good dental hygiene is essential for teeth, especially after children have consumed sugary treats — preferably the best brushing they have done all week!”
If you are not sure whether your child is brushing his/her teeth correctly, show them how to do it and model good brushing behaviour on your own teeth. An electric toothbrush suitable for your child’s age may also help with brushing effectiveness.
Other top tips from Dr Susan Cartwright to help the mini-mes brush include:
– Start early with babies – as soon as the first tooth erupts.
– Make brushing a game – sing along, tell a story.
– Make brushing a part of the bath routine.
– Set the example – show children how you brush your own teeth.
– Use age appropriate brushes and toothpastes.
– Always brush after the last food/drink has been consumed and at one other time in the day.
– Always assist children under the age of eight years old.
SCHEDULE REGULAR VISITS WITH A DENTIST
Allowing children to get into a regular routine of visiting the dentist is essential for their oral health. Ideally this should be your family dentist, so your kids can see you visiting and learn by example. It then becomes an easy routine and sets a child up for a positive lifelong relationship with their teeth. Preventative care is key, with regular visits saving so many dental issues down the track.
EATING A BALANCED DIET
Following a healthy diet makes it much easier for children’s teeth to also remain healthy. With wellness an essential part of life, children should be taught to embrace wholesome eating habits.
“Sweets and treats on Halloween are an exciting prospect for children, but for parents it can be hard to know if they should allow their child to indulge and how much is enough”, says Dr. Sue. “It’s ok for children to enjoy a few sweet treats on Halloween, but try and limit them to meal times and don’t allow children to eat sweets continually. The constant bathing of the teeth in the acids that bacteria produce from sugar does the most damage”.
And for those blowout moments? Don’t worry. If your kids are using Colgate® Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser™ to brush their teeth, at least you know it has them covered as much as possible, with their teeth as strong as they can be!