With Halloween fast approaching, parents have been warned that if the right boundaries are not established around the consumption of sweet treats, children’s oral health will suffer in the long-term.
“The ADA understands that sugary treats play a role on occasions such as Halloween, which is coming up.
“However, we encourage sugary treats to only be consumed in moderation. Families should consider having a sugar break the week before and the week after, just to offset the sugar hits that will come on Halloween,” says Professor David Manton, Vice-Chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee.
Research indicates that tooth decay in children is rising, with over half of 6 year olds experiencing tooth decay in their baby teeth, and by the time children reach 12, almost half have experienced decay in their permanent teeth.
Professor Manton says: “There’s a direct relationship between having sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis and tooth decay – in fact, it’s the number one cause.
“Kids who have tooth decay early in life are at considerable risk of having more dental disease later on in life.
“However, tooth decay is entirely preventable.”
This Halloween, be aware but not alarmed of the Sugar Bandit. Put security measures in place such as:
- Limits on the amount of sugary treats children can have;
- Ensure that children do not snack on sugary treats over a long period of time;
- Ensure that children brush their teeth well before going to bed;
- Give children alternatives such as cheap toys and playing games – there are many other ways to have fun on Halloween in addition to sweets. Use this as an opportunity to be creative.
The ADA’s recent Dental Health Week introduced the theme of the ‘Sugar Bandit’ – as its way to educate parents and children about the risks of sugary food, and in particular how certain eating habits place oral health at risk.
When preparing for Halloween, the ADA also warns parents to check the nutritional information of snacks that are marketed as ‘healthy’. Many of these snacks are actually high in sugar and get stuck in children’s teeth, increasing acid attacks which cause decay.
Some of the major ‘healthy’ snack tricks the Sugar Bandit offers are: dried fruit, biscuits (sweet and savoury), fruit juice, muesli bars, crackers, children’s cereals, flavoured milk, sweetened yoghurt, fruit bars, fruit slice, flavoured popcorn, canned fruit, baked goods and banana bread.
“This Halloween children can still have their treats and lots of fun provided we teach them the right healthy eating tricks,” says Professor Manton.
This article first appeared on the Australian Dental Association website.