Have Your Candy, and Eat it Too.
The changing temperatures and shorter days can only mean one thing – fall is here! Halloween is right around the corner, and although candy consumption is nearly unavoidable, we’re here to make it less scary for you, your children and your dentist.
Treats and Tricks
- Limit availability: When trick or treating is over and the costumes come off, sit down with your children and help them sort their candy. Let them choose 10-15 of their favorite sugary goods and dispose of the rest. Many local organizations have programs that allow you to donate your leftover Halloween candy to troops overseas. Other options for donation would be local nursing homes, food pantries, children’s hospitals, veteran’s home or women’s shelters. If you can’t bear to part with the candy, put it in the freezer and save it for a rainy day.
- Eat with meals or immediately after: During meals and immediately after, saliva production is increased. This will help fight bacteria in the mouth and rinse away food particles. Eating a healthy, balanced meal will also leave children with a satisfied stomach, resulting in less candy consumption.
- Brush and floss 30 minutes after consuming: Brushing and flossing should already be an important part of your child’s every day hygiene habits, but it’s especially important after consuming candy! However, according to the Mayo Clinic, it’s best to wait about 30 minutes after consumption to start brushing. Foods high in sugar can release acids that attack tooth enamel; brushing too soon can remove the enamel.
- Avoid hard or sticky candy: Candies that stay in the mouth for a long time put teeth at a greater risk for tooth decay. This type of candy spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down. Chocolate is, in fact, the best candy option. It dissolves quickly in the mouth, therefore having little contact with teeth. Dark chocolate is especially favorable since it is high in antioxidants.
- Drink more water: Fluoride can help prevent tooth decay and it occurs naturally in water. While brushing and flossing after eating candy is ideal, rinsing with water will also help wash away some of the sugar and acid present in the mouth.
Other Helpful Tips
- Don’t buy candy too far in advance: When you buy candy too far in advance, you’re creating temptation for you and your children. Don’t allow yourselves to get a head start on the splurge!
- Have a game plan: Before you leave the house determine a game plane. How long will you spend trick or treating? Which neighborhoods will you go to?
- Give out healthier treats: Do your part to help the fight against those little monsters known as cavities. Give out sugar-free candy, dark chocolate or even mini bags of pretzels. Some grocery stores even offer discounts on snack packs of fruit during the Halloween season.
- Do a “safety check”: It’s always important to check your children’s trick or treat bags. Look for anything that doesn’t seem right: lumps under the wrappers, ripped or loose wrappers, candy that has an unpleasant smell, etc. When in doubt, throw it out.
Halloween is a great time to teach your children the importance of oral health. Remember that it’s a good idea to monitor candy intake all year round, not just during the holiday season. Children and adults should be brushing their teeth twice a day for 2-3 minutes, and don’t forget to floss! We want you to have healthy teeth long after Halloween is over.