Halloween will be here in just a few weeks and your kids are already excited. According to a survey by the ADA, two-thirds (65%) of children think Halloween is the best holiday of the year, and naturally, trick or treating and collecting free candy is one of their favorite parts.
And while some neighbors might pass out small toys or other candy alternatives, odds are your children will bring home candy by the pound. All that sugar can cause a lot of tooth decay, but that doesn’t mean your children’s teeth need to become the scariest part of Halloween.
We’ve brought together a list of candy that kids (and their parents) should avoid this Halloween. We’ve also included a few other tips and tricks to ensure your family members maintain healthy smiles this holiday season.
Treats to avoid
Sticky candy should be avoided as much as possible. This includes gummy worms, Tootsie Rolls, and taffy. The more time sugar gets to spend on your children’s teeth, the more time it has to cause tooth decay. This means that the stickier the candy, the worse the effect. Not only that, but we have had some patients visit because an old filling was actually ripped out by extremely sticky candy. This can be a painful and expensive treat.
You may think dried fruit is a great alternative to candy, but it is full of sugar and can be just as sticky as taffy! Fresh fruit is much better for your teeth than dried fruit, so stick with that.
Hard Candy or Lollipops
As we said before, when it comes to tooth decay, it’s all about the amount of time the teeth are exposed to sugar. Because hard candies, like jawbreakers or lollipops, spend so much time in your children’s mouth, the sugar gets plenty of time to stick around. Increased exposure to sugar increases the likelihood of tooth decay, so avoid the hard candies.
Furthermore, as the old Tootsie Roll pop commercials famously summarizes that it’s extremely difficult not to bite into hard candies. Biting into hard candies puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on teeth and can lead to chipped teeth or broken fillings. It’s better to avoid the temptation and extended sugar exposure by avoiding hard candy.
Although soda typically isn’t given out during Halloween, it contains a large amount of acid and sugar that can wear down teeth. During the Halloween season, it’s extra important to drink water instead of soda. Your children will be consuming plenty of sugar with their Halloween candy, and soda will only make things worse.
Other tips for healthy teeth around the Halloween season
Eat more dark chocolate
You didn’t expect that we would recommend you eat more of a certain type of candy, did you? Several studies indicate that dark chocolate is actually effective at fighting tooth decay.
The reason: compounds in cocoa beans can harden the enamel on teeth and have an antibacterial effect that helps fight plaque.
Although the studies aren’t yet conclusive, dark chocolate is still a much better option than gummies or hard candy.
Eat candy around mealtime
Eating candy is unavoidable around Halloween, but thinking strategically about the timing can help. Most children will attempt to eat candy throughout the entire day, but eating candy around mealtime will help keep the mouth clean. Saliva production increases during mealtime, which in turn helps clean their teeth by removing the sugar and neutralizing the acid levels of their mouths.
Chew sugar-free gum
Like mealtime, chewing gum also stimulates saliva production. Ensure you and your children are chewing gum that has the ADA seal of approval; otherwise the sugar in the gum will offset any benefits that the saliva produces.
Brush your teeth
It’s always important that kids brush their teeth at least twice per day. During Halloween, take extra care to ensure they brush their teeth before bed and don’t eat candy afterwards.
While late night candy binges might be tempting, allowing that sugar to sit on their teeth all night will cause tooth decay.
Don’t be afraid of visiting the dentist
Halloween is all about being scary, but a trip to the dentist shouldn’t frighten anyone. At Children and Teen Dental, we pride ourselves in creating an environment where kids of all ages can feel safe and welcome. We treat everyone like family and love seeing our patients.
Contact us to schedule your child’s appointment at any of our convenient dental offices located nearest to you.
For more useful tips on keeping you and your children’s mouth healthy, read these 10 tips for a healthy mouth from the ADA.