Candy Patrol – Preparing for the holiday season

Toothpaste Man vs Cavity Man

It’s end of October and as we brace ourselves for the 5 month candy fest that follows from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, we interviewed our dentist friend, Dr Alan Nguyen from North Carrollton Dental, for some advice on tackling this sugary season. Yes, even dentists give their kids candy too. Dr Nguyen and his wife Tiffany have three ittybittyfoodies (ages 6, 4 and 3) so they know how hard it is to let kids enjoy holiday treats without going overboard.

1) They say an apple a day keeps the dentist away. Does it really?
Apples contain vitamins and other nutrients that may benefit the immune system.  A raw unpeeled apple has Vitamin A, C, and small amounts of most of the B vitamins especially folate, and also some Vitamin E.   Besides nutritional benefits, the coarse texture stimulates the gums and increase saliva flow which is very important in maintaining a healthy oral environment.  Studies have shown that saliva serves as lubricant, cleanses food debris, neutralizes acid production, helps to breakdown of carbohydrate and re-mineralizes and protects against infection. Avoid fruit juices.  Eating normal portions of fresh fruits and vegetables in conjunction with proper home care – brushing and flossing, could make for short visits at the Dentist.
2) You have 3 children under the age of 6 years old. What advice can you give parents about the holiday season and amount of candy that’s everywhere. 
I allow candy but as a positive reinforcement tool.   Tooth decay occurs when the sugars adhere to teeth for too long; bacteria in the mouth turn sugar to acids, which eat away at the tooth’s surface and cause cavities.  The amount of sugar one consumes doesn’t matter as much as the amount of time the sugars allowed to remain in contact with the plaque on the teeth. Drinking some water could help wash the sugars away.   So give everything in moderation and brush more often.
3) Do you let them keep ALL the candy they collect at Halloween?
I do not let them eat all their candy.  I will let them select some of their favorites (under an adult guidance) and allow for a good old fashion sugar high.  Most of the candy is given away.  (After Halloween, many dental offices would buy or exchange Halloween/Holidays candy for alternative goodies.)  I believe it is more fun to have amassed the loot than to gorge on it.   
4) Flossing is so difficult for little mouths. What do you use for your kids?
I regularly recommend pre-loaded flossing tools that are smaller and very convenient.  Many pre-loaded flossers are designed with Disney characters (such as Oral-B stages flossers) or fun designs (Wild flossers from Johnson & Johnson) for kids.  For younger children, parents should do the flossing.   I usually do my kids flossing but will allow them to try it out for themselves.  Eventually they will be able to get it done. The string floss takes a fair bit of manual dexterity and patience. Most children will not be able to use the string floss themselves until 6 or 7 years old.  The American Dental Association recommends flossing children daily, preferably at bedtime.  At the minimum, make sure flossing your kids twice a week.
Dr Alan Nguyen has been practising dentistry since 2000 and recently established a new general dentistry practice in Carrollton. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Tiffany and three young kids and is an avid photographer. You can find him at North Carrollton Dental.
“Toothpaste Man vs Cavity Man” written and illustrated by rileyPOP!
Sugar up responsibly!
Till our next Happy Meal!

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