Halloween is just around the corner, and everywhere you look, kids are being bombarded by candy displays and sugary treats. While there's no denying the fun of this spooky holiday, it can be truly scary for their teeth!
So how can you and your kids enjoy all the festivities without damaging your dental health??
Check out these 5 simple suggestions from Dr. Daren Gehring at Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry:
#1 Halloween Candy vs. Cavities: Don't make kids choose
Don't deny your child the Halloween experience. Instead, let them have the joy of Halloween in all its ghoulish goodness and the experience of going to a party or trick-or-treating. However, after your children get back from the party or trick-or-treating, go through their bags of Halloween candy together. Tell them to pick the 10 or so (whatever number you decide together) treats they want most. Then get the unpick treats out of sight. **(see below)
#2 Set a "Treat Time"
Cavities and tooth decay are caused by prolonged exposure to sugar. If kids know there is a specific time for a special treat, they can learn to enjoy the treat in that moment and then be done for the day. After the "treat time" encourage brushing to remove the sugar that remains on their teeth, or at the very least, have them swish with water to remove as much sugar as possible. This helps children learn that eating sweets shouldn't be an all-day feast. Moderation is the key.
#3 Choose your candy carefully
- Sticky candies are the worst for teeth. Taffy, caramels, and gummy candies adhere to every nook and cranny on the surface of the teeth, and because they are so sticky, the saliva isn't able to wash them away as effectively as other types of candy. Kids should brush their teeth as soon as possible after eating these types of candies.
- Hard candy like lollipops and jawbreakers are almost as bad. Although they do not stick to their mouths, they take a long time to dissolve. As a result your child's teeth are exposed to sugar for a longer period of time.
- Sour candy is also bad for your teeth because of its higher acidity, which can break down tooth enamel quickly. Even though candy such as Pixi-sticks dissolve quickly in the mouth and don't require chewing, they contain nothing but sugar and acid and can quickly change the mouth's PH and give bacteria a quick sugar to eat. Candy that is both sour and sticky should really be avoided as much as possible due to the double threat of the candy sticking to the teeth longer with additional acidic content.
- Chocolate, with no sticky fillings, is a much better option. This type of candy will generally not stick to teeth as easily as other sweets, making it a better choice when your child is asking for a treat.
- Sugar-free gum may be the best choice because it leaves no sticky residue. It can also help clean out food debris and stimulate saliva production which helps keep our mouths less acidic and less prone to cavities.
#4 Candy is not dinner
Let's face it, if left to their own devices, many kids would be perfectly content eating candy for dinner. However, feeding kids a healthy dinner before they head out to trick-or-treat is a great way to decrease their desire to binge on candy. Plus, eating dinner will kick start saliva production, which in turn protects teeth from sugar and acidity of candy eaten later.
#5 Keep teeth brushing fun
Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 to 4 months anyway, so make Halloween an occasion for getting your child a new toothbrush. Children are more apt to brush when they like their toothbrush. Children also like to pick out their own toothpaste. Give them the freedom to pick from gels or pastes, different colors and different flavors. Just check the label to be sure it contains fluoride. There are also apps such as "toothsavers" that encourage teeth brushing as well as video games to play involving brushing the "bugs" away. Check out 2min2x.org as well as mychildrensteeth.org for additional ideas for more "fun" dental information.
**Here at Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we are excited to be participating in our 3rd annual
Operation Gratitude Halloween Candy Buy Back!
Your child can bring their extra candy to our office Saturday, Nov 1st from 10:00 - 2:00 for our annual Candy Buy Back and donate it to our troops overseas. Your child will receive $1 for every lb of candy donated (up to 5 lbs). There will also be prizes and games for all the kids as well as awesome prize drawings for those that make a card to send to the troops along with the candy. It's a win, win, WIN situation! The troops win by getting treats and cards from home, your child wins by getting $$ for their donation and best of all, your child's teeth win.
For more information on operation gratitude visit: operationgratitude.com or call our office 435-752-4330.
We are located at 1451 North 200 East in Logan (just west of Lowes by the clock tower).
**Some information for this article is found on WebMd in an article titled 5 tricks for dealing with Halloween Treats, by Kathleen Doheny.