How to Save Your Kids' Teeth This Halloween

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By Dr. Jennifer Salzer

It's hard to find a child who doesn't love holidays -- especially holidays that are accompanied with heaps of candy and treats, like Halloween. But with tooth decay still recognized as the most common chronic childhood disease, it is important to teach children about proper oral hygiene and what they can do to maintain a healthy smile.

As a mom of a four children, I know how hard it can be to get kids to embrace a good oral care regimen on a day-to-day basis.

The following are my suggested tips for helping your children make his or her "sweet tooth" doesn't turn into a "toothache" this Halloween:

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1. Establish set times as to when your children can have a treat to help pace the amount of candy they consume.

2. Save treats like candy, cookies and pies for after mealtime, since this is when the amount of saliva produced in the mouth is greater. This timing will help flush harmful bacteria out of the mouth.

3. Serve children milk or cheese with Halloween candies, since dairy acts as a buffer to the acids produced by oral bacteria, decreasing the possibility of tooth decay.

4. Keep floss picks on hand to help remove hard candy that can get stuck between kids' teeth, which can cause cavities.

5. Encourage children to drink more water to help prevent tooth decay.

6. Offer choices and have plenty of oral care supplies on hand for your kids in the flavors and designs they'll be excited to use.

7. Make brushing for two minutes easier by keeping a timer in the bathroom or by playing a song from your kids' favorite singer for the two minutes while they brush.

8. Encourage your kids to brush in front of a mirror. This helps them see the spots they otherwise may miss.

9. For kids with braces, it is important to show them the correct way to brush. They should be using a two-step system, brushing from the top down and then from the bottom up, to help dislodge any food particles that may be stuck in the brackets.

10. Lead by Example. If your kids sees that you take good care of your teeth, it will reinforce that good oral hygiene is important to you.

Dr. Jennifer Salzer is an associate faculty member at the New York University College of Dentistry. She has a private practice on Park Avenue in Manhattan. She graduated from Duke University in 1993 and received her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from New York University in 1997. She went on to obtain her certificate in Orthodontics from New York University in 1999. Dr. Salzer recently partnered with Crest & Oral-B Pro-Health FOR ME, a complete line of oral care products designed especially for kids 8 and up, to help elevate the importance of proper oral health in children. For more information and oral care tips from Dr. Salzer, please visit www.crestprohealth.com.

As part of her ongoing commitment to oral care education, Dr. Salzer developed the "Youthful Smile Profile Test" to help educate women on the lifestyle, life stage, health and oral care choices that impact the aging of the mouth.

In addition to all of her work in the field of dentistry, Dr. Salzer is the mother of four children: Mason, Jesse, Beau and Vivi.


  • CBS Interactive staff

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