How to Protect Your Child’s Teeth From Valentine’s Day Candy

Like anything that we consider “unhealthy” — French fries, soda, or ice-cream — moderation is key. It’s the same when it comes to Valentine’s Day candy for your child.

Although baby teeth develop cavities at a far faster rate than adult teeth do, it’s ok for your child to enjoy a small amount of sugar every now and then. The key is to limit how much and how often the holiday messenger hearts or chocolate covered caramels are consumed.

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when you’re helping your child choose or sort through Valentine’s treats for their class:

Encourage Non-Edible Valentines. These days, it seems like every time we turn around, there’s another class party, holiday, and junk food to go along with it. Encourage your child’s teacher to promote non-edible items like stickers, pencils, notepads, or other gifts instead of all 20 students buying candy for one another. Even if the entire class doesn’t join in, your student can make a difference in their own personal gift choices.

Avoid Stickier Candies. Sticky items like caramel or taffy tend to adhere to teeth for hours at a time, keeping sugar in contact with the teeth. If your child is in braces, there’s also a risk of the brackets getting pulled off when they bite into tacky-textured treats. A better option is to go with chocolate candies that melt away within a matter of minutes.

Eat Candy with Your Meal. Instead of having Valentine’s Day candy as a snack, or nibbling on a few pieces here and there throughout the day, encourage your child to eat it with their school lunch or right after dinner. What this does is limit the length of time that acid byproducts etch away at tooth enamel. More frequent snacking just means more acid on their teeth throughout the day. After a couple of days, throw out the leftovers.

Double Down on the Fluoride. Make sure your child is using a fluoridated toothpaste each day. Adding in a fluoride-based mouthwash can help to target hard-to-reach areas around times when you know your child’s smile is going to be exposed to extra sugar. Fluoride treatments at their regular checkups are one of the best ways to strengthen teeth against decay.

Regular dental visits make it easy for your family to receive preventive services that limit your child’s risk of developing cavities. Schedule your next visit with your dentist today!

About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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