Dr. Jeff Chaffin.

Dr. Jeff Chaffin.

With trick-or-treat night approaching, a new survey finds only 24 percent of Iowa parents surveyed would give their kids an “A” grade for oral health.

Doctor Jeff Chaffin, dental director at Delta Dental of Iowa, says the study also found more than eight in ten Iowa parents say their children’s oral health isn’t as good as it could be.

“It’s not really a surprise, it’s a trend,” Dr. Chaffin says. “We know kids just don’t brush and floss as well as they should. That’s why some of the prevention things, like going to the dentist regularly, drinking fluoridated water, things they don’t have to think about to improve their oral health, are important as well.”

The study found almost one-third of children don’t brush twice daily and 78-percent of children don’t floss daily. Chaffin says parents need to foster responsible dental hygiene in their kids year-round, especially during Halloween.

“When we say ‘responsible,’ we like our children to eat their candy and then go brush their teeth, as opposed to eating candy all throughout the day,” Chaffin says. “That’s when we really see that repeated sugar exposure causes problems.” At the Chaffin household, young costumed ghosts and goblins are likely to be offered a combination of candy and toothbrushes.

There’s another trend emerging as well, where a teal-colored pumpkin is placed outside certain houses during the trick-or-treat night. “For teal pumpkins, those homes are being sensitive to folks who have food allergies and other types of issues,” Chaffin says. “They are giving out non-candy. It could be pencils, stickers, those types of things. It’s very nice especially because we see a growing trend of families who have children who have issues with certain types of foods.”

He suggests parents make sure their kids have a good meal before hitting the trick-or-treat trail, so they’re not snacking all night and come home wanting to binge on candy. Plus, he says to look over their loot for any signs of tampering. “It’s always a concern and as a good parent, you want to make sure you’re in neighborhoods that you know to stay safe,” he says. “Also, take a look at the candy before your children eat any of the candy.”

Other tips:

-Make sure your children drink extra water to stay hydrated during trick-or-treating and to help wash away sugar that may otherwise cause tooth decay.

-Remind children to brush for two minutes and floss after they dig into their trick-or-treat bags. Practicing good oral hygiene will help keep their mouths clean and their teeth free of decay.

-Find Halloween activities that aren’t about the candy. For fun and interactive Halloween activities for kids, visit http: www.theoriginaltoothfairypoll.com/trick-or-treating