Keep Halloween Candy from Trashing Your Kids’ Teeth

Now that fall is in the air, your little ones are likely getting excited for Halloween. Eating mountains of candy all night is every child’s dream, but it can be a nightmare for their pearly whites. Sugar is a major cause of tooth decay, which makes Halloween particularly dangerous for your children’s oral health. This year, take steps to keep your kids’ sugar intake in check and protect their teeth from icky cavities. Here are some ideas to help you manage the candy bucket.
Use a Smaller Treat Bag

Every child’s plan for the night is to fill their goodie bag with as much candy as it will hold. So if you send your goblins and witches out with a giant pillowcase for trick-or-treating, they’re going to come back with a ton of candy. Instead, opt for a smaller bag that will fill up much faster. Your kids might be a little disappointed with their haul, but their teeth will thank you.
Save Candy for After Meals

Your kids are going to want to start snacking on their candies right away. Go ahead and let them have a few pieces that night to let them celebrate, but save the rest of the candy for a post-dinner dessert. Saliva production increases during meals, helping to wash away any bacteria and food particles that got left behind. Having candy after dinner ensures that your children’s teeth have a little more protection because of that extra saliva.
Swap Candy for Sugar-Free Rewards

Candy is great, but if your child has had his eye on a new video game or has been itching to go bowling, you might be able to make a trade. Consider offering to swap candy in exchange for a toy or activity. This maintains the fun of Halloween but limits the amount of candy your kids are indulging in.
Maintain Good Brushing Habits

The first thing your children should do after treating themselves to a sugary piece of candy is brush their teeth. Brushing is the best way to remove any candy or sugar residue from the teeth. Remind the kids how to brush properly — by holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and moving it back and forth as well as circular motions and also short, soft strokes — and supervise them if they need a little extra help.

If your worried that this year’s Halloween candy might have taken a toll on your children’s teeth, schedule an appointment at Playtime dental for a cleaning and exam. Dr. Jackson Cockley, DDS, will take a closer look and make sure there aren’t any cavities hiding out in your little one’s teeth. Give us a calltoday to make an appointment.

Is Your Child A Good Candidate for Dental Sealants?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 70 percent of children will experience cavities in their teeth by the age of 19. If left untreated, these cavities can lead to tooth loss and a lifetime of dental problems. Dental sealants are an option that protects the chewing grooves of the teeth from getting cavities.

Understanding Dental Sealants

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that is applied to chewing surfaces to prevent the tiny grooves and fissures in young teeth from developing cavities. These sealants bond into the small depressions, protecting teeth from bacteria that cause dental caries (cavities). The sealant is applied on teeth after cleaning any food or plaque from it. 

The teeth are first roughened (etched) with an acid wash, and then, the sealant is painted onto them. It is then allowed to cure using a curing light. These sealants can last as long as 10 years and will protect the chewing, cheek or tongue surface of the teeth as children grow into young adulthood. 

Dental sealants are an underused resource that can help children who have difficulty cleaning back teeth or who are vulnerable to cavities.  The surfaces in between the teeth cannot be sealed so flossing is still the best way to protect the teeth from interproximal cavities.

Sealants Go Where Dental Caries Happens

Newly erupted teeth may have many very small grooves and indentations that catch food and may be difficult to clean properly. The teeth at the back of the mouth, in particular, can hold food debris that allows bacteria to thrive. 

Sealing the chewing, cheek or tongue surfaces of back teeth ensures that bacteria will not be trapped in these mini crevices. Sealants can be particularly important for children who have thin tooth enamel or a tendency toward developing cavities easily.

Ongoing Preventative Care for Children

Dental sealants should be applied on newly erupted permanent molars and pre-molars. This generally occurs between the ages of 6 and 14.  Sealants applied at this time can protect children’s teeth during these cavity-prone mid- childhood years. Dental sealants can be a useful part of preventative care for children’s oral health. They can provide that additional measure of protection against tooth decay that can lead to tooth loss.

Your child can enjoy oral health throughout his or her life if you form good habits early and visit your dentist regularly. Dental sealants can be part of the ongoing care your child needs to maintain an attractive and healthy smile. Call Playtime Dental today to schedule an appointment for your kiddo or if you have any questions!

How to Make Sure Teens are Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

Your teen’s smile enhances their confidence and self-esteem. It’s one of the first things that will attract people to them. That’s why it’s so important to take good care of the teeth starting as soon as possible. Teens lead very busy and active lifestyles, which unfortunately can translate into less time spent on dental hygiene. Following these recommendations will help your teen maintain and sustain quality oral health.

Set a Routine

It is recommended that a person brush at least two to three times per day with a fluoride toothpaste in addition to flossing at least once per day.  Over time they’ll get used to the routine.  Doing so will help prevent tooth decay, plaque build-up and gum disease. 


Dental plaque loves sugar and carbohydrates.  Healthy snacks like fruits and veggies can actually help clean teeth, so encourage your teens to eat smart when it comes to snacking.  A diet that’s rich in nutrients is also going to benefit dental health over many years.

Regular Dental Visits

We’re aware that teens maintain an active lifestyle, but routinely seeing a general dentist during the teen years is important for the general development of their teeth and mouth.  Just because they saw a kid’s dentist routinely and all of their permanent teeth have come in doesn’t mean that the health of their teeth, gums and bone are optimal.  Ignored or untreated dental conditions are going to detract from their overall health and smile, so make sure they get a cleaning every six months. 


Oral piercings might be popular with kids, but they can chip or break teeth.  If your teen is set on it, some piercings are safer than others.   We can make our recommendations if needed. 

Mouth Guards

Dental injuries occur every year in sports. If your teen is involved in sports, they can prevent dental injuries by wearing a mouth guard.  They’re highly recommended and are custom fitted.

Can Cough Syrup Cause Cavities?

It’s well established that both cough drops and cough syrup contain ingredients that can contribute to tooth decay and oral health issues. A child’s teeth are most susceptible to cough syrup, particularly if they use cough medicine and then go to bed without brushing their teeth.  The purpose of cough syrup is to coat the throat, but it also coats the teeth.

Sugar, Alcohol and Cavities

Cough syrup usually has a sweet taste because of the sugar in it, but it also often contains citric acid and alcohol. Alcohol can make the mouth dry.  Bacteria in the mouth feed on that sugar, and the acid forms around the teeth from the bacteria. Saliva naturally cleans the acid away, but because of the drying effect of alcohol coupled with the naturally diminished production of saliva during sleep, sufficient saliva isn’t produced to clean off the citric acid. That means the acid from the bacteria is left on the teeth for hours resulting in tooth decay.

Cavity Prevention During Cold and Flu Season

If you’re going to give your child cough syrup during cold and flu season, give it to them well before they go to bed and make sure that they brush and floss their teeth before their head hits the pillow. If you have to wait until just before the child goes to bed before taking the cough syrup, have them brush and floss to remove the sugar from the surface of their teeth. Pills or capsules are the best alternatives to liquid cough medicine, and they work just as well so long as your child can swallow pills or capsules.

Tooth decay can cause pain and destroy teeth that you and your kid’s dentist work so hard to maintain. Quality oral health for your kids helps keep your children healthy and reduces the costs of dental care. A little sugar, citric acid and alcohol in a dose of cough syrup might seem insignificant, but it can adversely affect their oral health over time, particularly before bedtime.  Follow our cough medication recommendations for the optimal dental care of your child.