You may believe that Halloween is a dentist’s favorite holiday because of the potential toothaches all that candy can create. While we love seeing our young patients in costumes, we really do not want to see them come in with tooth decay.
We would never suggest depriving children of Halloween fun and the treat of all that candy. However, we do want to offer a few suggestions that may help parents reduce the amount of candy consumed that night and soon after. We want them to enjoy the treats with no dental “tricks.”
It’s always easier to set the rules for how much candy can be eaten right after Trick or Treat night, and every day after that. Decide with your kids how to divide their bounty, what they may want to keep for later, what can be shared with others. The “share” pile can be taken to your work or a food pantry. Some candies freeze well and can be saved for later…out of site, out of mind!
Go through their Halloween loot with your kids to ensure everything is well-wrapped and safe. At the same time make a couple of piles: soft and sticky candy, hard candy, chocolate candy.
Soft and Sticky – Gummies, taffy, carmels, candy corn and other sticky candy are really tough on braces, sealants and fillings. Be extra firm about how often and how many pieces of these are enjoyed. Plus you’ll want to remind your kids to brush and floss after the last piece of candy is enjoyed.
Hard Candy – There are only a couple of ways to eat hard candy: keep it in your mouth for a long period of time or crunching it. Neither are good for your teeth but crunching can actually break teeth and fillings as well as damage orthodontics. On the other hand, sucking hard candy leaves the sugar in your mouth for a longer period of time, which can lead to cavity-causing bacteria. Remind your kids that crunching on hard candy or ice is never okay.
Chocolate – Non-sticky candies with chocolate, like M&Ms, Reese’s or Snickers are the “safest” candies for your children’s teeth. They are also some of the favorites around, so the problem here is definitely controlling the quantity devoured in any day! As with all candy, brushing and flossing will help remove sugar and reduce cavity-causing bacteria.
Halloween should be fun and festive. We hope all our young patients have a great time Trick or Treating. Our message to all: be safe, be happy, and brush your teeth!