Tooth decay — and the cavities that result — are actually caused by a specific bacterium: streptococcus mutans. While families do not pass along a tendency for "soft" teeth, they do pass down the bacterium itself, which leads to tooth decay and tends to make people think tooth decay is hereditary. Generally a mother passes the bacterium from her mouth to her child's before the child reaches the age of 2, according to Parents magazine. The role that candy plays, however, is in providing the sugar that the bacterium feeds on. The bacterium then produces acid that depletes calcium and breaks down the structure of teeth.
Halloween brings loads of fun for children, but you can also offer fun activities that remind them about good dental care. Kool Smiles has a number of activity sheets available to download that make learning about oral hygiene fun. You can also download an app, such as Kids' Dental Health: Educational Interactive Book with Games for Kids, available for $10 for the iOS platform, to engage children in activities that remind them how to take proper care of their teeth.
While it might seem smart to avoid candy altogether, your child will likely want candy more once it is forbidden. Instead, follow a few tips to minimize its harmful impacts:
Once Halloween is over, it's still important to keep the focus on proper care of your child's teeth. In addition to regular checkups, be sure your child is brushing twice a day and using an ADA-approved toothpaste. Also, teach your child to floss. Avoid giving your child sugary drinks. Instead, choose fluoridated water to help wash away sugars and starches between brushings. Continue to enjoy the fun activity sheets and dental health apps with your child as reminders of the importance of good dental health.
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