3:13 pm - Thursday December 16, 0708

Halloween: A Dentist’s Dilemma‏

Nearly one out of four dentists said they do not hand out anything on
Halloween, while five percent attack the holiday head on by handing
out toothbrushes, according to Delta Dental’s recent Tricky Treats
survey. But the good news for confection-craving kids is 60 percent of
dentists indicate that they give out candy (news release below).

Delta Dental Survey Asks Dentists How Kids Can Enjoy Treats and Still
Avoid Oral Health Tricks

How do dentists confront the professional
quandary that is Halloween? Delta Dental of Colorado was curious and
found that approaches vary depending on the dentist.

Delta Dental’s recent Tricky Treats survey of more than 250 dentists
found that nearly one out of four dentists said they do not hand out
anything on Halloween, while five percent attack the holiday head on
by handing out toothbrushes.1 Still, 60 percent indicate that they
give out candy.

“We have some professional conflict with Halloween, but dentists know
that holiday snacks are a fact of life,” said Dr. Michael Makoto
Okuji, DDS, dental director for Delta Dental of Colorado. “The
emphasis on candy at Halloween makes it a particularly good time to
also stress good oral health and how to limit the damage of sugary
snacks.”

Of the dentists who hand out candy, 79 percent choose chocolate, while
just 13 percent hand out varieties like hard candy or lollipops. And
there’s a good reason for this confectionery choice. When it comes to
teeth and sugar, it’s really a matter of time. Chocolate dissolves
quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, which decreases the
amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. Tooth decay occurs
when candy and other sweets mix with bacteria in the sticky plaque
that constantly forms on teeth to produce acid, which can wear away
enamel. Chewy, sticky treats are particularly damaging because not
only are they high in sugar, but they spend a prolonged amount of time
stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down. Hard
candies are tough on teeth as well because kids tend to suck on them
at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time.

Delta Dental of Colorado offers these additional tricks for dealing
with Halloween treats:

Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to
trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.
Promote good oral health care habits to your children year-round by
encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, daily
flossing and regular dental checkups.
Don’t buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation
for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.

“At the end of the night, it’s a good idea to remove the sticky, gummy
and chewy choices from your child’s candy haul,” Okuji said. “Limit
the number of treats per day and reinforce the need for good oral
hygiene. Before Halloween, ask your dentist about sealants to protect
the decay-prone grooves in your child’s molar teeth.”

To learn more about what dentists give out at Halloween and get their
best advice for keeping kids’ teeth healthy, please visit
www.trickytreats.org or “like” Delta Dental of Colorado on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/DeltaDentalCO

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