Christmas aside, Halloween has undoubtedly become one of the UK’s favourite family celebrations. Every year, the range of decorations available becomes bigger and bigger (and also more extreme!). More and more children are enjoying turning their homes into houses of horror for this annual celebration of all things ghostly and ghoulish. For many children, however, the biggest attraction by far is trick or treating. This is where parents need to be tooth conscious. Read on for some top tips to help reduce sugar intake and protect your children’s teeth this Halloween half term.
You might not be the world’s greatest fan of zombies, witches, skeletons or other gruesome icons of the undead. As a parent, however, sugar should definitely score high up on your list of fears. After all, while the rest of the above are pretty harmless, excess sugar can cause damage to young teeth extremely quickly. What’s also scary is how many young people are affected by tooth decay.
According to official NHS data, the number of hospital admissions for tooth decay for children aged 5-9 increased for the second consecutive year from 25,923 in 2016-2017 to 26,111 in 2017-2018. On average, Each child with tooth decay has 3 to 4 teeth affected. For those children at risk, tooth decay starts early, while 12% of three-year-olds have visible tooth decay. We don’t want to put a dampener on your Halloween spirits. But, we do want to help you to enjoy it while also reducing the risk.
It’s natural with all the hype, that children will want to indulge in all manner of spooky-looking snacks over Halloween. These don’t all have to contain excessive sugar. One of the best ways to take control over what your children are consuming – and also keep them entertained – is to get the kids to create some creepy cakes and spooky snacks during the break. Look for recipes that are based on sugar-free or low sugar ingredients to reduce the risk to your children’s teeth.
If you are cooking with chocolate, consider substituting dark chocolate as an alternative. This typically has a considerably lower sugar content than milk chocolate (but do check the labels as this does vary from product to product).
Another approach is to substitute sweets and processed snacks for natural alternatives. Nuts, dried fruit and fresh fruit can all become wonderfully wicked snacks with a little imagination. Seasonal vegetables offer some great ideas for both main meals and snacks too.
The best way by far to keep children away from sugar is to keep their little hands busy. Halloween offers plenty of opportunities for arts and crafts. There is no shortage of crafting materials available both online and in high street retailers, and that’s before you consider the options with recycled or repurposed materials. From indoor and outdoor decorations to scary costumes, your imagination really is the only limit. If you do find yourself struggling for ideas, there are plenty to be found on Google.
No doubt you’ll be carving pumpkins with the children this Halloween. Did you know that pumpkin can be used for a variety of delicious and nutritious dishes too? Pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup are traditional favourites that are sure to be a hit with the children, and there are many other ideas to be found online too.
On a final note, the most important thing by far to remember during Halloween and any other school holidays is not to let children become complacent about brushing their teeth. Brushing the teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes is essential to maintaining healthy teeth for the future – especially at times of the year when sugar consumption tends to be higher than normal.
Dentists also recommend that sweet snacks and foods are consumed at mealtimes wherever possible to reduce the amount of time that your children’s teeth are exposed to sugar.
At Stella Maris Dental, we’ve been keeping families smiling for over 32 years. To book an appointment now or to enquire about becoming a member, call to day on 0121 588 4541.