Trick or Treat ... or Cavities?
Use Halloween as a time to teach your children important lessons about nutrition and dental care.
Avoid Tooth Decay continued...
"I always tell parents that they should try to encourage
their kids to limit eating to breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snack
times," says Steiner. "And drink water between meals. Most water
systems in the U.S. have added fluoride. When we drink water, it helps by
washing some acids out of our mouths and it also supplies fluoride, which
protects against decay."
Children should brush three times a day for two minutes and
rinse with a fluoridated mouth rinse, according to the American Academy of
General Dentistry. Fluoride treatments, applied directly onto teeth, are also
available in any dentist's office.
Steiner says he recommends children have their first checkup
between one and two years of age with a pediatric dentist.
Of course, nutrition and weight came up in any discussion of
children having unlimited access to candy.
"I would never tell kids they can't eat their Halloween
candy," says Kilfoil. "But I would recommend that parents start telling
their kids a few days before Halloween that they can have one or two pieces of
their candy after meals."
Kilfoil says Halloween provides a good opportunity for parents
and children to talk about eating right and maintaining a healthy weight.
"A lot of our children are becoming obese or are at risk
for obesity, and holiday times too often send the message that overeating is
OK," she says.
Obesity is the leading cause of pediatric high blood pressure
and type 2 diabetes. The CDC reported in 2000 that 15% of American children
aged 6 to 19 are overweight, up from 11% from a survey conducted from 1988 to
1994. The prevalence of obesity in the young varies by ethnic group. Childhood
obesity is more common amongh African-American and Hispanic kids than among
Kilfoil says that one Halloween-candy strategy parents can try
is to go through their children's haul and try to weed out the candy that has
high fat content.
"Candy that is all sugar isn't all that much better, but at
least it has fewer calories," she says.