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How to choose the right Halloween candy

It’s October and time for Halloween! It's great fun for children, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, collecting candy, coming home to admire their haul, and sometimes stockpiling it for months.

But dentists aren’t nearly as enamored with Halloween, because they know the possible ramifications of eating candy: not only damage to the teeth and gums but also possibly to a child's overall health.

You already know that having healthy teeth and gums has an impact that goes far beyond the mouth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, periodontal disease and infection, which can impact a patient's heart, lungs, and entire body.

Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer at Western Dental & Orthodontics, has five tips on candy for patients of all ages:

1. Choose candy carefully.

Avoid hard candy, such as lollipops, and other sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time. These candies increase the risk for tooth decay.

2. Avoid chewy candy.

Chewy, sticky treats, such as caramels or gummies, are particularly damaging as they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, and are more difficult for saliva to break down.

3. Chocolate is preferable.

Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, decreasing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth.

4. Eat Halloween candy only after mealtime.

Parents should avoid letting their kids snack on candy throughout the day. Saliva production increases during meals, helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.

5. Take preventive steps.

Drinking water intermittently helps to keep the sugar from resting in the grooves of their teeth. And while you might be tired of hearing it, brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly before going to bed are crucial.

By exercising good common sense, you’ll maintain a bright smile and healthy gums throughout the Halloween season and beyond. Happy Halloween!

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How to get children to regularly brush their teeth
Let’s face facts: Kids hate to brush their teeth. And parents grow extremely weary of the daily battle to get them to do it. Brushing your teeth is crucial for everyone, especially kids who want to avoid bad habits at a young age that can lead to poor dental hygiene the rest of their life. Battling with a child who won’t regularly brush their teeth can become an unwanted bedtime nightmare. Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer for Western Dental, provides 5 tips for getting kids to brush regularly. • Pick a fun Toothbrush, Toothpaste: Buy a cool new toothbrush – dinosaurs, race cars, Disney characters, Barbie – that your child is excited to use and do the same with a child’s toothpaste. Make a fun time of taking your kid to the store to pick out toothbrush and toothpaste. • Play their favorite song: Brush DJ – an award-winning free app – plays two-minute songs. Kids can pick the songs. The app also sets reminders to brush twice a day, floss, use a mouthwash, and visit the dentist. • Reward good brushing behavior: Suggestions include extra half hour of TV; 30 straight days leads to a gift of their choice; award stickers each time they brush, and provide a reward (new toy, trip to the zoo) when the child reaches a certain number of stickers. • Brushing with your kids: Many young kids enjoy emulating their parents. Set aside a time each evening where you can brush your teeth together. Make it fun – perhaps create a dance while brushing. But also make it informative. Show them the proper technique for brushing. • Story time: Create a story, like “sugar bugs” are attacking your child’s mouth. The only way to defeat the sugar bugs is to defend your mouth with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Your child becomes a superhero, fighting the evil sugar bugs. Or maybe it’s monsters invading Smile Kingdom. The idea is to make brushing FUN!