Nowadays, adults are just as excited as kids are when Halloween is near. The costumes, the parties but most of all, the CANDY! Halloween is the time of year where everyone eats candy and other sweet treats in excess. So what can parents do to keep their child’s teeth healthy this Halloween?
Not all Halloween candy is the same
When it comes to kid’s dental health, not all candy is created equal! There a bad options and, well, not so bad options, so when you’re trying to choose which sweet treats your little ones can munch on, here are a few good guidelines to help.
- Chewy/sticky candy – gummy candy, taffy, dried fruit; anything chewy and stick is bad for kid’s teeth. They get stuck in the nooks and crannies of teeth and are nearly impossible to get out without a good brushing and flossing
- Sour candies – any kind of candy that’s highly acidic is bad for kid’s teeth. Any sour candy that kids suck on for a long period of time are exceptionally bad, as the acid AND sugar sit in the mouth for a long time, but even pixie sticks and other sour choices are high in acid. Really, any hard candy isn’t the best choice because it stays in the mouth so long, but SOUR hard candy is the worst!
- High sugar candy – yes, anything sweet likely has sugar and if it’s candy, it probably has A LOT of sugar, but in particular, steer clear of candy corn and other super-sweet candies to help protect your child’s teeth.
- Sugar-free lollipops, candy or gum – even low sugar versions of the standards are better than the high sugar options. An added bonus with sugar-free lollipops and sugar-free gum is that they stimulate saliva, which can prevent dry mouth. A dry mouth allows plaque and food to build up on kid’s teeth faster so these can be decent options for candy.
- Chocolate or cookies – seems odd that a pediatric dentistis putting chocolate and cookies on the “good” list but remember, they’re better than the sticky, gooey candy for children’s teeth. They don’t stay in the mouth for a long period of time, they aren’t exceptionally sticky and won’t cling to every groove and crevace in a child’s tooth, and are not typically acidic.
Monitor when your child consumes their Halloween treats
Encourage your kids to eat Halloween candy and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals, and this helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.
Keep sugar consumption to the candy
Kids are going to eat a lot of sugar during the Halloween season, so be sure to limit their sugar consumption in other areas to avoid a double whammy. Cut back or eliminate sugary beverages, including juices high in sugar. As a matter of fact, increasing their water consumption during this sugar overload season will not only help them stay hydrated, but will help wash away the bacteria that feed off the sugar that is left over in their mouths that can cause cavities.
Out of sight, out of mouth
The temptation to overindulge in sugary treats increases if there are buckets and bowls of candy on the counter in plain sight. Parents should try to put candy away for portion control and to be able to monitor how much and what kind of candy the little ones are consuming.
Keep them brushing
Halloween time is an especially critical time of year to make sure your kids are brushing twice a day. Keep those toothbrushes fresh and replace when they’re getting worn down. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
Halloween is an exciting and fun time of year for kids (and adults!). Make sure October’s fun doesn’t turn into November’s cavity by keeping your child’s teeth healthy this Halloween.