Many Halloween characters have horrible teeth but in reality, having rotten teeth is not fun. While everyone should have fun this Halloween, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is saying keep things in moderation when it comes to sugary treats.
Dr Hugo Sachs, ADA President said, “Halloween is a great opportunity for children and adults alike to dress up as scary characters, such as zombies and witches who come with blackened or missing teeth. What we don’t want though, is for children to have those sorts of teeth all year round!
Tooth decay is still of concern in Australia. Australia’s Oral Health Tracker, released in March 2018, reported that:
· 3 in 4 children consume too much sugar.
· Close to a third of children (5-10 years old) have untreated tooth decay.
· Almost half of Australian children have not visited a dentist before their fifth birthday.
· 1 in 10 potentially preventable hospitalisations among children are for dental problems particularly in children between 5-9 years of age.
Dr Sachs concluded, “Let’s keep the black teeth to those created with makeup during Halloween and make sure that tooth decay and dental erosion do not make a permanent home in your mouth after trick or treating”.
To ensure that sugar related acid attacks on teeth are minimised on Halloween the ADA recommends:
• Limit the amount of sugary treats children can have;
• Ensure that children do not snack on sugary treats over a long period of time;
• Rinse your mouth with water after eating anything sugary;
• Chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva, which can neutralize the acid attacks;
• Check the nutritional information of snacks that are marketed as ‘healthy’ – many foods contain high levels of sugar. Examples are dried fruit, biscuits (sweet and savoury), fruit juice, muesli bars, crackers, cereals, flavoured milk, sweetened yoghurt, fruit bars, fruit slice, flavoured popcorn, canned fruit, baked goods and banana bread;
• Ensure that children brush their teeth well before going to bed;
• Give children alternatives such as cheap toys and trinkets – there are many other ways to have fun on Halloween in addition to sweets. Use this as an opportunity to be creative; and
• Have a sugar break the week before and the week after Halloween.
Australia’s Oral Health Tracker is available www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker
Interviews available with: Dr Hugo Sachs, ADA President
Health Dental Halloween