Before you know it, Halloween will be here, and you and your children will be inundated by creepy confections! We might as well call it ”candy season,” because that’s what it feels like. Everyone is in the mood to celebrate the change of season and indulge in their favorite spooky treats like candy corn, caramel apples, taffy; you name it, it’s available and packaged in fun Halloween themes to get you into a magical mood!
With some careful planning, you can help your family enjoy traditional ghoulish goodies without permanently damaging their teeth. Unfortunately, consuming a lot of candy often leads to cavities because sugar creates an environment in your mouth that is actively conducive to cavity formation, thanks to oral bacteria. While some bacteria in the mouth are good and promote a healthy oral ecosystem, the rest are harmful to your teeth, proliferating from sugar in your mouth and then releasing harmful oral acids that weaken tooth enamel, allowing cavities to form.
Worst Candies for Teeth
While no candies are particularly good for your teeth, there are some that are worse than others. Avoid hard or chewy, sticky candy (like the plague they are) as these break down the protective tooth enamel layer:
- Bit O Honey
- Gummy candies
- Caramels and caramel apples
- Sour candies that are extra acidic (think Jolly ranchers)
These sweets also get trapped between teeth where it’s harder to clear this bacterial residue away. Normally, saliva works to wash away food particles, except for between the teeth, so that’s why you need to floss those spaces daily, especially after eating sweets. Fortunately, you have healthier options to protect your child’s teeth during the Halloween season!
Protect those Pearly Whites
-Go through your children’s candy with them, remove the ones they can’t have (see list above) and consider donating those to your local fire department, homeless shelter, hospital or senior citizen center. The act of giving can boost your children’s self-esteem, make them feel good about themselves while helping out their community, and makes you feel better by protecting their smiles.
-Don’t let your children graze on candies throughout the day. Choose a particular time of day for them to enjoy their fun treats, and set a limit, such as three pieces a day.
-Don’t give your children candy for their daily snacks. Stick to fruits and cheeses that are better for their teeth and then possibly allow some candy later.
-Soft candies that melt quickly are your children’s (sort of) best friend. The shorter time that sugars and acids linger on their teeth, the better their teeth fare.
-October is not the time for your children to become lax on their daily oral hygiene habits. Now more than ever they need to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once (preferable before bed so no sugary residue remains on their teeth while they sleep).
-Have your child wait half an hour before brushing after eating acidic foods and drinks. This allows the acid to be washed away by saliva before brushing the tooth enamel surface.
-Ask about sealants when your child sees the dentist. Sealants help the molars do much better by preventing cavities on those hard-to-reach and clean areas.
-Give your children access to plenty of water to refresh their mouth and body. Even rinsing with water after indulging in sweets can help wash away some of the sugar so it doesn’t stick around on tooth surfaces.
-Limit candy treats to have after meals instead of randomly throughout the day. Chewing increases saliva production which helps neutralize some of the oral acids and helps to wash away sugary food particles around their teeth.
-This Halloween, consider handing out fun toys instead of candy, like plastic spider rings, mini play-doh, stickers or glow sticks.
-If your children haven’t seen the dentist yet for their next regular dental cleaning and exam, fall is a great time to get their teeth cleaned and checked for potential developing problems.
Festive Family Halloween Fun
We hope these tooth-friendly tips help you and your children enjoy the ”frightful” festivities while still taking good care of their ”fangs.” Dressing up in fun costumes, carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and decorating your home with skeletons, ghosts, bats and witch’s hats are a fun time for everyone to enjoy Halloween hijinks!