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Halloween shouldnt be scary for your teeth

By Royal College of Surgeons of England | 30th October 2021 | News

The Royal College of Surgeons of England has devised six helpful tricks to protect children's teeth from sugary treats that can cause decay not just on Halloween but all year long.

Tooth decay remains the most common cause of hospital admissions for children aged 5-9 years old in England. A total of 23,529 (1)  children aged 5-9 are admitted to hospital due to tooth decay each year. A total of 23.4% (2) of 5 year olds in England have visible tooth decay. There were 59,314 (3) tooth extractions in 2017 to 2018.

Mr Matthew Garrett, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:

"There is a trick to ensuring healthier teeth for children, and that involves enjoying sugary treats, but in a way which reduces harm to teeth and gums.

"Trick-or-treating is a night of great fun, but parents, grandparents and guardians must be alert to the importance of making sensible decisions about letting children eat sweets at Halloween and all year round."

Our six tips for protecting children's teeth at Halloween:

  1. Try and avoid the very sticky sweets that get stuck to your teeth
  2. If children are given sweets on Halloween, rather than eating them all at once, save some to have with a meal at home to reduce the impact on their teeth
  3. If trick or treaters visit you over Halloween, consider giving out alternative treats to sweets such as stickers
  4. 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!
  5. Try to avoid sugary drinks - water is much better for teeth
  6. Even though they may be tired, make sure children brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste before going to bed.

Mr Garrett added:

"Our message not just for Halloween but for all year round is that tooth decay is 90% preventable through reducing sugar consumption, regular brushing, frequent exposure to fluoride and routine visits to the dentist.

Everyone under 18 is eligible for free NHS dental care yet recent statistics show over 67% (4)  of children in England did not see an NHS dentist in the past year. If some of our Halloween tips for protecting teeth can be followed all year round, this will make a huge difference to children's oral health."



1. The NHS statistics for Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity for 2020-21, which includes statistics on children admitted to hospitals each year for tooth decay, can be found here Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity - NHS Digital

2. The Government statistics for tooth decay in the 2018-19 school year is here Tooth decay in 5 year olds - GOV.UK Ethnicity facts and figures (

3. The Government statistics for Episodes of children being admitted to hospital for tooth extractions from 2016 to 2020 is here Hospital tooth extractions of 0 to 19 year olds - GOV.UK (

4. The NHS Dental Statistics for 2020-21 which includes statistics for children visiting a dentist are here

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