Healthy Teeth Tips for Halloween
Written by Consumer Guide to Dentistry Last modified on October 26, 2018
With Halloween right around the corner, kids are finalizing the perfect costume and making trick or treat plans with friends and family. Although Halloween might be many kids’ favorite holiday of the year, it’s also one that puts parents on high alert when it comes to candy consumption. Parents might take steps to limit the volume of candy their kids collect, or filter out some of the unhealthiest options in the bag, but at the end of the day (or should we say night), there’s going to be plenty of sugary, tooth-attacking treats left to fret about. With that in mind, Consumer Guide to Dentistry has some helpful Halloween candy tips to minimize the potential damage at your kids’ next dental visit.
All Hail Chocolate
Believe it or not, chocolate is actually one of the better candy options when it comes to tooth health. It’s relatively easy to clean off the teeth after eating, and is usually quite soft, meaning it’s unlikely to chip or crack teeth or damage soft tissue like hard candy.
Dark chocolate is a particularly good option because it has less sugar than milk or white chocolate, and also has a number of other healthful benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants, packed with nutrients and has actually shown to aid brain function.
So when it comes time for parents to rummage through the Halloween haul and filter out the bad (and the occasional snack for mom and dad), be sure to leave as much chocolate as possible.
Avoid if Possible
The older your kids get, the harder it’s going to be to filter out too much of their haul. So it’s important that you zero in on the worst offenders when it comes to pinching a few pieces here and there. Candies that your kids are going to have in their mouth for a long time are red flags. Lollipops, chewing gum and hard candies like jawbreakers (the name says it all) should be the first to be sacrificed. Candies that your kids suck on or chew for long periods of time increase the risk for tooth decay. And hard candies obviously pose a risk of chipping or cracking your kids’ teeth.
Say “No” to Sour
Kids love to dare each other to eat sour candies, which can make it that much harder to get rid of them without your kids noticing. But there’s more to sour candies than just the pucker. Sour candies can be highly acidic, which can spell trouble for tooth enamel, the protective layer against decay. Too much sour candy can be a gateway to decay.
Lead by Example
You don’t want your kids getting overloaded with sugary, sticky treats this Halloween, so you can do your part by handing out something a bit healthier. We’re not suggesting you be “that house” that hands out miniature tubes of toothpaste or a handful of pennies, but maybe think twice about handing out sugary gum or lollipops. A selection of dark chocolate and some sugar-free candies could go a long way to helping other parents out whilst still giving your neighborhood trick or treaters something to smile about.
Timing is Everything
No matter how many steps you take to limit the amount of candy and filter out the really bad stuff, your kids are still going to have a lot of sugary treats they’re anxious to get their mitts on. If possible, try and sync up the eating of Halloween candy with meals. Saliva production increases as we eat, which is helpful for washing away bacteria and food particles. You can use candy as a motivator for your kids to finish their meal.
If your kids are eating candy as a treat outside of mealtime, make sure they wash it down with a cup of water (preferably fluoridated).
Replace the Sugary Drinks
When it comes to dealing with the immense amount of candy consumption that comes with Halloween, moderation is everything. In addition to the things you do to filter out the worst types of candy and moderate the timing of when your kids are allowed to eat their candy, it’s important to think about the other foods your kids are eating/drinking during this time and making adjustments accordingly.
For example, if you let your kids drink soda with dinner, or have a juicebox once a day, consider replacing those sugary beverages with something like water or milk during the Halloween period. These sorts of changes can help mitigate the dental effects and the chaos that comes with the mighty sugar rush.
And make sure they’re not skipping out on their dental hygiene during this time. Brush, floss, repeat.
Schedule Dental Visits Accordingly
The ADA recommends twice yearly checkups for optimal dental health. Everybody’s schedule is different, but if possible, try scheduling your kids’ appointments after the Halloween period rather than just before. If you follow the tips listed above, you can help to minimize any dental damage associated with Halloween candy, but it’s no guarantee. Scheduling a trip to the dentist after-the-fact can be the ultimate safeguard to help your kids avoid the dreaded candy cavity.
For more information, you can check out our slideshow, Combatting Cavities – 6 Surprising Ways to Prevent Tooth Decay.
You can also check out another slideshow from the ADA with more tips on How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy During Halloween.