As a parent, Halloween can simultaneously be the most fun and worrisome time of year. On one hand, you will get to see your child dress up and have a blast trick-or-treating, and on the other, they will have access to a mountain of sweets afterward! Not only does this mean dealing with spurts of sugar-fueled energy, but it can also lead to oral health problems linked to sweets, like cavities. Read on to learn how you can stop decay in its tracks and keep your favorite smile healthy.
How Do Cavities Develop?
Cavities are one of the most common oral health problems in the world with the ability to impact patients of all ages. Children are especially susceptible to decay because they are still learning how to properly brush and floss their teeth, meaning plaque and tartar accumulation is more likely to occur if they aren’t closely supervised during their dental hygiene routine.
There are three main stages involved with the development of decay:
- Plaque Forms: Plaque is a clear, sticky substance that is comprised of food debris, saliva, and bacteria found within the mouth. It coats the teeth, and when not cleared away with routine brushing and flossing, it can harden and develop into tartar.
- Bacteria Erode Enamel: As a result of plaque and tartar accumulation, bacteria will multiply and feed off the debris stored in these sticky and hard coatings. As they process the debris, they will release acidic waste that can erode enamel and make teeth more susceptible to deterioration.
- Decay Ensues: Once the acid and bacteria cause more extensive decay, they will begin moving through the tooth, making their way to the vulnerable center where the inner chamber and pulp are hidden. When cavities are left untreated, they can then develop into tooth infections.
Protecting Your Favorite Smile From Cavities
For infants, children, and even teens, cavities can be a major issue, especially if your child’s diet contains excessive amounts of sugars and carbohydrates or they don’t receive enough fluoride. After Halloween, it’s important to take these preventive measures to keep your little one’s oral health on the right track:
- Take them to their pediatric dentist for their routine checkups and cleanings, ensuring that any plaque and tartar accumulation is professionally cleared.
- Make sure they receive a fluoride treatment at their routine checkup and cleaning if the dentist or hygienist recommends it.
- Supervise them while they brush their teeth, or do it for them to make sure that all debris built-up throughout the day is removed.
- Avoid giving your child sippy cups with sugary liquids like juice.
Even though peeling your little one away from their hard-earned stash of Halloween candy will be a feat in itself, helping them stay on top of their oral hygiene routine and build good dental habits will be well worth it!
About the Author
Dr. Cory earned his certificate in pediatric dentistry from Case Western Reserve University and the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Ohio. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and has years of experience providing children with the educational, fun, and positive dental care they need to help their smiles thrive. For questions or to schedule a checkup and cleaning, visit G&G Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics’ website or call 630-778-9500.