This weekend a dentist from our Manchester practice at Stevenson Square
couldn’t resist getting involved in a spot of trick or treating. But, instead of handing out sugary, cavity causing sweet treats she dished out toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste to all the little ghosts and ghouls who knocked on her door – even the MailOnline stopped by to find out more.
Vera Marques, 37, has loved celebrating Halloween since she was a little girl but feels guilty dishing out sweets each year to children who knock on her door as she knows the damage it can do.
So this year, Vera decided to play ‘trick or treat’ with a twist for kids knocking on the door, by surprising them with a cauldron full of toothbrushes, toothpaste and even dental floss.
Vera, who is a clinician at mydentist in Manchester, said: “I loved Halloween as a child. It was a time for a lot of fun and excess. I mean, all the sweets you can eat?! I used to have a blast with my friends.
“But since I have become a dentist I have seen the effect that the kind of sweets you get at Halloween has on children’s teeth so I feel guilty handing them out.
“While I know that sweets are part of the fun, they do make Halloween possibly the worst time of year for a child’s teeth as the aim of the evening is to collect as many sweets as possible.
“I decided that this Halloween I wanted to celebrate it but also help highlight that the festivities can be enjoyed in a way that doesn’t necessarily permanently damage a child’s teeth.
“I also always try to promote brushing in a fun way to children. I think it’s important that brushing is not seen as a waste of time by children. So this Halloween I was determined to bring the idea of fun back into brushing and show how important it is in a way that kids can engage with and would keep their attention.”
In the build up to the Halloween weekend, Vera has answered her door to young trick or treaters and surprised them with her unusual cauldron of Colgate.
Vera, who has been a dentist for 13 years, said: “I knew some children might not be terribly impressed to find a bowl of toothbrushes instead of a bowl of sweets but most have reacted to it quite well. Maybe it is just because the toothbrushes have cartoon characters on them, but even so, it gets them thinking about their teeth, which is the aim.
“Quite a few of the children looked pretty puzzled when they saw me in my dentist uniform and spooky face paint at the door holding lots of toothpastes, but hopefully the shock of it should help increase their awareness about looking after their teeth and make a real impression on them.
“Hopefully it will make a difference and at the very least ensure they were all brushing their teeth when they got home after eating all the sweets.
“If they go home to their parents or guardians and say that some ‘scary Halloween dentist lady’ gave them all of these sensible goodies, hopefully it will also make an impression on the parents too. My neighbours might think I’m a bit crazy but it is worth it.”
Even worse, often children get so many sweets that they continue to munch on them frequently over the next week or more – causing even more damage.
Vera had advice for both trick or treaters and those who are offering goodies this Halloween.
Vera said: “For others giving out sweets this Halloween, I would advise you to avoid sticky, acidic and sour sweets. Even crisps are harmful as they are sticky.
“Good alternatives to these are small chunks of hard cheese, like cheddar, which is good for the teeth. If you are giving out sweets through Halloween, sugar free ones will help.
“For those trick or treating, bring a bottle of water and this will help the saliva clean the teeth while you go from house to house. Chewing sugar free gum can help this too.”
Despite the serious message in her Halloween stunt, Vera’s love of the spooky period hasn’t stopped her seeing the fun side.
Vera said: “My stunt this Halloween isn't supposed to put people off eating sweets or sugary things. I just wanted to help people think about consuming them in a less harmful way.
“Children will always find a way to eat sweets, at Halloween especially, so hopefully my own ‘trick’ this Halloween will help them keep their teeth healthier while doing it.”
See Vera surprising some Trick or Treaters on the MailOnline