29 Oct 2014

Scary movies, ghost walks, silly costumes, the paranormal - just a few of the things that we associate with Halloween. Typically for children, Halloween is about dressing up and knocking on our front doors asking us to fill their buckets with chocolate, sweets and snacks. But while the night may be fun and enjoyable for all, it could turn out to be a particularly ghastly one for teeth.

Letting children enjoy themselves but finding a compromise could benefit your child's oral health in the short and long term. And remember, it's not just children this applies too. After all, how many parents out there are dipping into their children's sweets after sending them to bed?

Please take a quick look at the British Dental Health Foundation's facts and tips to help make Halloween a less scarier night for our teeth.

Halloween is now the third largest shopping season after Christmas and Easter, with UK shoppers now spending more than £300m celebrating the annual event. Shopping aisles are stocked wall to wall with costumes and pumpkins, but one charity believes the real horror lies in the treats. According to the British Dental Health Foundation, what is a great night for children could be a ghastly one for their teeth. Given that one in eight three year-olds and one in four five year-olds have visible signs of tooth decay, the charity parents and children can find a compromise that will not leave their oral health in a ghastly state. After an evening of trick or treating, children are likely to return with a bucket full of sweets and sugary goodies. Although they may prove to be too tempting for many children to resist, the British Dental Health Foundation believes parents need to be aware eating sugary foods too often could prove damaging. Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: “It is better for children to eat sugary foods all together, rather than to spread eating them out over a few hours.  “Of course we want children to enjoy themselves at Halloween, but there is a very real need for parents to moderate their child’s sweet consumption. The trick is to find a middle ground. It is fine for children to have the odd sugary treat on a special occasion as long as they are kept to mealtimes and they keep up their regular dental health routine. The key thing for parents to remember is that it is how often sugar is consumed, rather than how much sugar, which heightens the risk of tooth decay. “Every time we eat or drink anything sugary, teeth are under attack for up to one hour. Saliva plays a major role in neutralising acid in the mouth, and it takes up to an hour for that to happen. If sweets are constantly being eaten, the mouth is constantly under attack and does not get the chance to recover. That is why one of the Foundation’s key messages is to cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.” TRICKS AND TREATS Keep sweets to mealtimes only to reduce the amount of time teeth are exposed to them Limit the number of houses you visit as this will help cut down how many sweets they get Make sure your child does not eat sweets one hour before bedtime, as they could risk brushing off enamel from their teeth which has been weakened by the acidity of their salvia after consuming sugary foods Supervise children brushing their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste before they go to bed.  Brushing last thing at night is important, and the mouth produces less saliva overnight Offer sugar-free sweets – those containing xylitol are actually beneficial for oral health Cheese, nuts and breadsticks are a healthier alternative, as they do not cause decay Dried fruits are not necessarily a healthier option for children’s teeth. They are sticky and very high in sugar For children with braces, crisps may be a safer option as a treat than chocolate and toffee. This reduces the possibility of damaging your braces.