It’s almost that time! Spooky streets, chilling costumes and lots and lots of candy! Halloween may very well be the favorite holiday of many children for just that reason. But while children enjoy goblins, ghosts and goodies, parents are standing back calculating just how many cavities and dentist visits are in their near future. To make the most of Halloween festivities while also making good dental health choices follow these tips about treats and tricks for keeping teeth clean.
The short answer is yes, however, carefully choosing the candies your child eats can make a big impact on their teeth. Follow these dos and don’ts when it comes to choosing which candy is best for your child to eat.
Candy sweetened with xylitol will give your child all the satisfaction of candy without the sugar. Xylitol is a sugar substitute and is often used in candies and confections.
Chocolate is a soft, quick dissolving treat that is easy on teeth. For the best choice, pick dark chocolate. It has antioxidants, tannins, and theobromine- a naturally occurring compound that can actually help to strengthen tooth enamel. Dark chocolate also typically contains less sugar than milk chocolate.
Chewing sugar free gum for at least 20 minutes after eating sugary sweets can actually help to clear the sticky residue and cavity causing bacteria from your mouth. Just make sure the gum is made with xylitol and has no added sugars.
Chewy and gummy candies are the worst for tooth health. They create a sticky film that clings to teeth and is difficult to remove. This gives sugar eating bacteria lots of time to produce the acid that breaks down the hard outer shell of teeth and creates cavities. These candies also tend to be the highest in sugar and the hardest for your saliva to break down and wash from your mouth.
Sour candies are often made with a chewy or gummy interior coated with an extra layer of sugar on the outside. But they also contain added acids to create that ultra sour pucker. These added acids work with the acid created by bacteria to quicken tooth decay and the creation of cavities.
Hard candies are just that- hard. And some can be so hard that they can actually break your teeth. But sucking on a hard candy isn’t really a better option. Hard candies tend to stay in your mouth longer and mix with your saliva allowing sugar to continuously be washed over your teeth.
Passing out candy to droves of dressed up children is a Halloween tradition. Just because you are watching out for the dental health of your children and those in your neighborhood doesn’t mean you have to stop handing out treats to the kids who come to your door. Check out these tips to have a happy (and healthier) Halloween handout.
You now know sugar free is the best option for your own children, so why not all of them? There are now many candy options made with xylitol that you can easily find in local markets. The best part? Kids can’t tell the difference!
Look for individually wrapped fruits like oranges in your local market. These are a great option to pass out and serve as a sweet, but nutritious, break from all the candy.
Skip the Sweets- There are lots of options for those looking to skip candy altogether. Why not be the one house on the block where kids are surprised by what goes in their candy bag? Some options include Halloween pencils or pens, creepy spider or skeleton rings, glow sticks or light up pins, stickers, or spooky temporary tattoos. All these options give kids a treat that lasts longer than Halloween night.
That’s right, water. Mini water bottles can be found nearly everywhere and are easily decorated with ghostly labels or decorative ribbons. Water bottles don’t just hydrate hard working trick-or-treaters. Water is a great tool to help tooth health by washing sugars and food particles out of the mouth.
It may feel strange or unfestive to hand out anything other than the staple sugary treats that kids are used to, but making a small change can have a big impact on your family and those around you. And if fewer kids visit your door that just leaves more leftover for you!
There is space in a healthy lifestyle to splurge on Halloween. Just don’t forget to build and follow good dental habits throughout the year and practice moderation when it comes to sugary treats.
Making choices to protect the health of you and your family is your number one priority. Remember that Halloween treat binges should still be followed by brushing teeth and flossing before going to bed. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated and help wash excess sugars and bacteria from their mouth.
When it comes to dental health let Dentists of Whittier work to protect all your most-loved smiles. Call us today at (562) 414-5025 to set up an appointment for you or your favorite trick-or-treater.
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