The sticky sweets handed out to trick-or-treaters this weekend could be “Halloween horror” for kids’ teeth unless parents act sensibly, the Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery has said. Professor Nigel Hunt has come up with a list of 5 helpful hints to help protect children’s teeth from the sugary treats that can cause decay on the spookiest day of the year and all year long.

Tooth decay remains the most common cause of hospital admissions for children aged 5-9 years old in England. More than 26,000 children in this age group were admitted to hospital due to tooth decay in 2014-2015. More than 179,000 teeth were also extracted from 0-9 year olds in dental practices in 2014-2015 .

Professor Nigel Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, said:

“Celebrating Halloween by trick-or-treating has become very popular in the UK in recent years. As a parent myself, I know the delight children take in donning fancy dress and visiting the neighbours to collect as many sweet treats as they can carry. Unfortunately, those sweet treats can be a Halloween horror for kids’ teeth. Sugar is one of the biggest culprits for nasty tooth decay.

“Children will be children and trick-or-treating will go ahead, so we don’t want to spoil the fun. We do however want to help parents make sensible decisions about letting their children eat sweets at Halloween and all year round.”

Professor Hunt has these 5 helpful hints for protecting children’s teeth at Halloween:

1.    If children are given sweets on Halloween they shouldn’t eat them straight away, but save them to have with a meal at home to reduce the impact on their teeth.
2.    If trick or treaters visit you over Halloween, consider giving out alternative treats to sweets such as stickers or balloons.
3.    Limit the number of sweets you give out to each child, particularly if these are sticky and very high in sugar – think about only giving out one or two rather than a whole bag!
4.    If the child is thirsty make sure they do not have sugary drinks – water is better.
5.    Even though they may be tired, make sure children brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste before going to bed.

Professor Hunt added:

“The fact that our children’s oral health is in such a pitiful state is a national scandal. So much of it is down to education. As dentists, we need to help children and parents understand how best to look after their teeth.

“Tooth decay is 90% preventable through reducing sugar consumption, regular brushing, frequent exposure to fluoride and routine visits to the dentist. It’s absolutely untenable that recent statistics show 42.1% of children did not visit an NHS dentist in the last year . Applied all year long, some of our Halloween tips for protecting teeth, can make a huge difference to children’s oral health.”