Dental Dialogues – October – A Time of Give and Take!
October is known for pretty fall colours, pumpkins, thick nutritious soups and stews and of course for Thanksgiving and Halloween, both occasions involving a lot of give and take. At Thanksgiving we give thanks for our many blessings as we enjoy a special dinner with family and friends, often one that involves lots of sweet desserts like pumpkin or apple pie. In short order, Halloween arrives with plenty of “take” as kids travel door to door soliciting candy from willing people who greet “trick or treaters” at the door with a bowl full of treats. What does all of this have to do with your teeth? Plenty!
Let’s face it, all these opportunities for sweets, treats, puddings and pies are bound to take a toll on your oral health if you aren’t careful and consistent with your regular oral health care routines. Since for many families, travel to other households takes place at Thanksgiving – it’s possible that routine is the first thing that goes out the window! That means children and perhaps even some of you adults will forget a toothbrush at home or forget to brush after every meal (but especially the big one, with the turkey and all those desserts!) As for Halloween, we all know that too much candy isn’t good for us but what can a parent do? Here are a few suggestions for helping to ensure you enjoy not only a safe Halloween but a holiday filled October that won’t leave your teeth, mouth and gums suffering from any ill effects for months to come. After all, yet another holiday season will be approaching as soon as December!
Halloween Safety Tips
- While we are all pretty much used to wearing a mask these days, don’t wear a mask on Halloween that impedes your vision. If little ones are able to go out this year, it will be dark by the time they hit the streets making it hard to see. Don’t add to the challenge by wearing a mask that covers the whole face or in particular, that blocks your child’s field of vision.
- Go with a friend, parent or caregiver. There is safety in numbers so make sure young children are accompanied on their Halloween walk and that any tweens or young teens go out as a group.
- Flashlights are your friend. Encourage the use of a flashlight to avoid tripping hazards, help guide the way and to see and be seen. Costumes with a reflective stripe incorporated into their design are also a good idea.
- No treats until you get home! This is a big one every year and it’s important for both safety and to enjoy the evening. Children who consume too many candies while walking about will be prone to tummy aches and it’s important that parents and caregivers monitor consumption and encourage tooth brushing after eating treats. This can only really happen once everyone is home safe and a compromise is reached on when, how many, and where, (not in bed!) treats can be consumed.
Thanksgiving Fun Facts
- Yes, it’s true turkey will make you tired. That’s because it contains naturally occurring L-tryptophan, a known sleep inducer. Overindulging may well lead to a mandatory nap on the couch after dinner!
- Yes, it’s true the US President officially “Pardons” a turkey during the American Thanksgiving celebration and no – Canadians do not have a similar tradition.
- Annually in Canada about 2.5 million turkeys are purchased and consumed during the Thanksgiving holiday.
- The most popular pie at Thanksgiving is……..dependent on who you ask! Pumpkin would be the obvious choice but while it is in the lead, it’s by only the slimmest of margins with apple pie running a very close second.
Now – what does all this “give and take” during the month of October have to do with your teeth? Well, as we alluded to earlier, your teeth will be doing a great deal of work and much of it will involve chewing food that Dentists normally highly recommend avoiding. We’re not about to suggest you keep the kids home on Halloween however and everyone deserves dessert once in awhile! Here’s what you can do to ensure good oral health in October:
- Brush after every meal, but especially after enjoying a sugary dessert or treat.
- If you can’t brush immediately, consider drinking some water and using it to “swish, swirl and spit” to remove as much of the sticky residue as you can. The same rule applies after drinking sugar-laden sodas or for adults, alcoholic beverages.
- Dentists don’t always recommend gum but in a pinch, even chewing a piece of sugar free gum will help rid your teeth of some the plaque causing bacteria that can accumulate between brushing.
- Flossing. Awhile back some of you may recall that flossing took a bit of a bad rap with some claiming that it wasn’t really necessary. At Eglinton Square Dental Centre, we take the position that flossing is in fact a good thing. We’re not suggesting you get over-exuberant and potentially cause damage to your gums, but a once a day, flossing with an approved dental floss or pick is a good idea for most patients. At your next routine appointment, ask us about the proper way to floss and we’ll be happy to demonstrate.
When it comes to the “give and take” of the October holidays, we strongly encourage everyone to give thanks for your family and friends and to take a few treats if you go door to door at Halloween. Just remember to also give your teeth a break by brushing and flossing after enjoying your pies and consider, if you haven’t done so recently, making an appointment for a routine dental exam with the team here at Eglinton Square Dental Centre!
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