Registered dental hygienist Darla Baksh says making poor Halloween choices can be hazardous to healthy teeth. Baksh, who has more than 19 year's experience in private practice, cautions parents that it is possible to make the increasingly popular St. Hallow's Eve more smile-friendly by following a few simple guidelines.
The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) seems to agree with Baksh.
According to the AAPD, the degree to which children eat Halloween treats, and candy in general, can severely affect dental decay. The decay comes from acid produced by bacteria living in the mouth when food or candy is eaten. Acid remains in the mouth long after eating, claims the AAPD. In addition, the association reports that those who consume long-lasting, chewy treats or snacks frequently suffer multiple acid attacks that can lead to tooth decay.
Baksh is no party pooper. She understands that on this particular spooky holiday candy is a must-have and she is not advocating kids give it up altogether. But there are more smile-friendly alternatives, including new, fun tooth tattoos, less sticky candy substitutes and tips for avoiding those unpleasant trips to the dentist's office.
Baksh recommends that parents advise their kids to avoid snacks that sit in the mouth a long time. She also suggests that if kids must eat candy, they should eat treats that are consumed quickly, as opposed to long-lasting gob-stoppers, and brush vigorously before bed to reduce or prevent the growth of bacteria overnight.
As a final tip, Baksh recommends parents offer non-candy treats to their spooky Halloween visitors and as party favors.
One suggestion Baksh makes is to offer the new fun, washable tooth tattoos. KidGenics offers a set of 16 peel-off, stick-on decals called Tooth Tat 2's. They come in a wide range of designs from the friendly -- happy faces and hearts -- to the spooky -- spiders and aliens. And the best part, advises Baksh, is that Tooth Tat 2's only adhere if teeth have first been properly cleaned, offering kids a trendy incentive to brush.
Tooth Tat 2's are available at Bed Bath & Beyond and other selected drug, grocery stores and specialty stores. They can also be purchased online at www.toothtat2.com. The suggested retail price is $2.99 a pack.
"It's not the ghosts, nor the goblins, nor the witches, nor even the mutant ninjas on Halloween that scare me on Halloween," says Baksh. "Rather, it's the high concentration of sticky, gooey, long-lasting, cavity-causing treats our kids, primarily young kids, collect and consume, that sends chills up my spine." Baksh fears the holiday will send more kids to the dentist's chair with cavities. And that's not fun for anyone.