By Irene Esteves, RDH
October 21, 2013
With Halloween quickly approaching, many of us will start stocking up on the goodies to be distributed at our door. Yet, Halloween can prove to be a time and even an opportunity where we can reach out to the community and share what we as dental professionals teach and believe – without necessarily putting a damper on the holiday!
While giving out toothbrushes and toothpaste alone may not be well received, it may be a nice addition to the candy and goodies we know the kids will be munching. Fluoride toothpaste for children can be extremely beneficial, as it strengthens the teeth and helps prevent caries that children are so prone to developing. If we are able to give away our extra supply of sample sized toothpastes, make sure to notify parents before dropping it into the bag. “Happy Halloween! We’re also giving out fluoride toothpaste for the kids since we all know they will really need it with all the candy they’re getting tonight. Fluoride can do wonders!”
Also, as dental professionals, many of us are able to access great deals on children’s toothbrushes for giveaways. Toothbrushes with fun characters that kids love – such as Disney princesses, Nemo, or Hello Kitty – may help in motivating kids to take part in their own oral routine and hopefully in time help parents with the stress of fighting with their kids to brush daily.
Moreover, sharing information in conjunction to giving candy can be fun and a great learning experience for the kids. Many community programs or corporate companies have their own free stickers, activity books, or brochures that have the basics of oral hygiene for kids. First 5 LA, for example, have stickers that remind children to brush their teeth after meals, while Colgate has fun books with dental facts and dental related activities online for children.
If we are not able to access kid friendly activities from organizations or companies, educating on Halloween still does not have to be expensive. Giving away something as simple as a page to color, which we can create, can be fun for kids and a way to share dental health education. It is also cheap and easy to distribute! Teaching children in fun, creative ways can help create healthy habits at an early age, which can benefit both the child and family in the future.
Finally, looking for candy to give out that is sugar-free or contains xylitol would be good substitutes to the usual high-calorie sweets that are commonly given out on Halloween. Sugar-free candy cuts out the sugars, while additions of xylitol have been found to be beneficial to the health of people in general. Also, choosing candy that can be eaten much faster is preferential than those that require remaining in the mouth for longer periods of time, such as lollipops and hard candies.
Regardless of what you choose, incorporating important oral health education and tools can help our community, especially the kids. Keeping baby teeth healthy is important for speech development, healthy eating, and confidence. Don’t fight Halloween by refusing to give children candy – it’s a great time to spread the news and promote prevention!