It is time for Diwali, the season of celebration that starts now and lasts till the end of the year. This festival is also all about fun, frolic and most definitely food. It is difficult to imagine celebrations without food, without elaborate mithais prepared for friends and family, ladoos and jalebis enjoyed by the family, and children rushing about with sweets stuffed in their mouth.
As much as this whole scenario conjures up happiness and fun, there is a lot to deal with once the festivities are up, and the most important being BAD TEETH and oral problems.
Sweets and delicacies are unavoidable, and so are the after-effects of gorging on them; bad teeth, bad oral odour, and with children, the first signs of caries and gum trouble.
As much as we love snacking on food throughout Diwali and thereafter, there are little unwelcome visitors snacking on the food collected in our and the kid’s mouth, that if left untreated or not looked after, can cause a whole host of problems, many of which are already known.
- Plaque and Caries – Sugary foods cause tooth decay. Period. Whether you give your child something mildly sweet or chocolates and desserts loaded with sugar, they will cause harm in the mouth and eventually caries. Another important factor, is the frequency at which they are eaten.
Eating foods of different kinds, almost always causes something to remain in the mouth, debris that gets accumulated between teeth and gums. Bacteria present in the mouth, feed on all these foods. In the case of sweet stuff, these bacteria feed on the carbohydrates in sugar, especially refined sugars in desserts to produce acids, which combine with saliva to form plaque. The plaque deposits itself on the teeth over a period of time, causing erosion of the tooth and caries.
- Bad Odor – Infrequent brushing and rinsing of teeth, causes the accumulated food build-up to cause an additional set of problems. Bad odour from the mouth is one such. Acid build-up in the mouth due to remaining food, tends to cause further damage to the teeth, leading to bad breath. The tongue is also a storage of bacteria and contributes to it.
- Dry Mouth – The more you eat, the more saliva is produced, yet consequently, the more sugars you consume, makes that saliva get used up quickly and causes dry mouth and bad breath. Dry mouth can result in frequent gum irritation, pain, inflammation and difficulty in swallowing.
As much as the harm that sweets can do during this time, Diwali is really incomplete without indulging in them. You really can’t stop the children from eating what they like. Here are a few practices to follow during this festive period;
- Brush the children’s teeth twice daily, even more frequently if required. No matter how long the day is, how tired and sleepy they are, never put them to bed without cleaning their mouth and brushing their teeth. This will help them in the long run by also enforcing a good habit.
- Avoid kids indulging in frequent snacking, in between meals. This helps reduce food accumulation in the mouth, and also lowers the exposure to sugar. Let them eat whatever they like, but in one sitting at one time.
- Drink juices, milk and other liquids with a straw. Sweetened liquids remain longer on children’s teeth than solids. Using straws will limit their contact with teeth, and also make it easier to get rid of them when brushing.
- Ensure they drink a glass of water after having sweets, or rinse their mouth every time they do. This can loosen up any accumulated food particles and prevent further damage.
- Enjoy sweets and sugary foods during a meal, rather than before or after it.Indulging in juices or snacks throughout the day, is giving bacteria a fertile ground to grow and flourish. But letting children have sweets together with their meals, ensures that the other foods prevent these sugars from sticking to the teeth and remaining in the mouth.
- Reduce rewarding good behavior with a sweet treat. Occasional snacking on sweets is fine, but keeping children busy with such foods for distraction, or as reward for a good job, sends across a wrong message. This not just harms their behavior, but teeth as well.
- Brush, rinse, clean and ensure nothing remains in the mouth. This cannot be emphasized enough. Brushing all areas of the teeth, especially the ones at the back and the molars, cleaning the tongue and flossing the mouth whenever possible, ensures that the festivities don’t leave children with harmful, long-lasting effects.
Children can and must enjoy Diwali, indulge themselves with sweets, but it is left up to us as parents to ensure their teeth and dental health don’t take a hit because of this.