What’s a Dentist’s Eye View of the Sweets Given Out at Halloween?
By Dr. Megan
With the advent of the Trick or Treat, there could be some levels of concern, thoughts, or even fear in every parent’s mind, contemplating how to handle the situation with their children. It is considered a joyful experience to which many children are looking forward. How can we let them enjoy the full adventure without a constant concern about the volume of all the sweets brought in?
Parents who have met me, probably know how I try to spend some time talking about what sugar does to the brain. You read it right. I’m not even starting with teeth here! I tell them “I’m a dentist, but for me teeth come second!” There is more research nowadays illuminating the relationship between sugar and systemic diseases, even in children.
You might think they are children, they grow up and will do better with their diet in future. I must tell you, sugar has been proved to be more addictive than cocaine! What it does to our brain cells to make us want it more and more is just comparable to addictive drugs. I know when I have an occasional piece of sweet, I definitely crave some more the day after and I have to try much harder to kill that craving in me.
Halloween should be handled just like any other occasion such as birthdays or family functions; meaning everything starts with how well and efficient the parents have been able to keep children away from sweet all their life. It starts by telling children true stories, in their own words though, of how cavities begin. Obviously this is very much age/maturity dependent. However the following is a sample of how I present my stories to children 3-6 years old, and you may modify my wordings for the younger or older group:
Every time we eat something sweet, like candies, juice, (feel free to use as many examples here as possible!), we invite “sugar bugs” or “sugar germs” to our teeth. They are very small and you don’t see them with your eyes. These sugar bugs LOVE the sweet and start having a lot of fun with so much sweet around them. After a while of partying, they are so stuck on our teeth that they make these little holes and we call them cavities. Do you like having those holes on your teeth?
You may ask, however, how do we deal with the whole basket of sweets they want to run through over night?
This is when some strictness is suggested. Storing (I mean hiding) or rationing them would be a good idea. If they are happy with a little sweet given to them occasionally (preferably with/after a meal), plan and schedule providing it such that they have it only as an occasional treat, not an every-day one.
Is electric toothbrush recommended? If yes, when?
Despite all the media commercials you see advocating for electric toothbrushes to be superior to regular toothbrushes, there is not much scientific data to prove it. Using them is just as good as using regular toothbrushes. Don’t get me wrong. There are cases I recommend using them. However, assuming there is a magic behind the technology of an electric toothbrush that a regular toothbrush doesn’t have, would be wrong. So when do I suggest them? If you cared enough reading this far, you probably have a child and we all know how they could be peculiar with their preferences and desires. If an electric toothbrush is a motive for a child to brush their teeth, go for it! Let them enjoy the experience! Although I’ve heard of the reverse as well where they find it intimidating, noisy or just not the right tool to bring close to their teeth. Just recently a father was telling me how his 4 year-old boy does not like the taste of children’s toothpastes and only wants to use the adult ones. I must tell you this was a first! In conclusion, there is really no rule set in stone when it comes to using electric toothbrushes. Use them at your discretion when/if it is acceptable/preferred by your beloved child.
I am Dr. Mojdeh Faraz, AKA Dr. Megan 🙂 I am a Board-certified pediatric dentist at Pajaro Valley Childrens Dental Group. I received my DDS at NYU fol- lowed by my specialty training at Jacobi Medical Center in affiliation with Albert Einstein School of Medicine. My passion in working with children and to be part of their innocent world led me to my field.
I am proud to work with an amazing crew who are so seasoned when it comes to working with children. They are the reason for the excellent reviews and feedback we’ve receive over the years. Please Feel free to come by and visit our fun and child- friendly practice