It’s Halloween, which means it’s time to get out the decorations and make sure your child’s toothbrush is at the ready. Below are a few candy tips that can help you avoid the post-Halloween blues at the dentist’s office.
They’re delicious and they are everywhere on Halloween. What’s worse, they are your biggest enemy when it comes to dental care. Here are a few types of candy that should scare you.
Most candies are loaded with sugars, but some are worse than others. You might catch a break with some treats made up of nuts or other less harmful ingredients, but many candies are simply made from pure sugar. Think candy corn, gummies, cookies or candy bars.
Some candies are incredibly sticky, and that’s not good. Gummy bears, Tootsie Rolls, gum, taffy—all of these sweets love hiding out in every crevice they come in contact with. They are difficult to remove, and they pack a punch when it comes to tooth decay.
It’s the opposite of sweet, but the effects can be just as detrimental: Sour candy has such a distinctive taste because of the highly acidic ingredients included. That’s bad news for your teeth. Those same ingredients, as tempting as they are, are able to eat into tooth enamel. Note that if your child eats sour candy, have him or her wait a few minutes before brushing so that those corrosive ingredients can be a little bit diluted before being spread elsewhere.
Not all candy is harmful—at least not relative to the culprits listed above. Here are a few sweets that your kids can enjoy without exposing themselves to serious dental issues.
Believe it or not, dark chocolate has been proven to be less harmful than many other ingredients used in Halloween candy. So if your child must eat something sweet, this is a relatively safe option.
Sugar-free candy is out there, and it’s quite popular. Give it a try and see if you can tell a difference. If you can’t, chances are good that your children can’t either.
Hard candy, while not necessarily the best option when it comes to teeth, can be a good compromise. While the ingredients might still pose a risk to your children’s teeth, it forces the mouth to water, coating it in cleansing saliva. This can flush away more harmful materials.
Gum, but not just any gum, can be your child’s friend in the fight against tooth decay. Sugar-free gum is becoming the norm. That’s great news for your little candy-eaters, as gum can increase saliva production and can help to dislodge food caught in small spaces.
Experienced parents know that most children will have a hard time seeking out and only eating dental-friendly options, so it helps to have a plan in place so that you can moderate how much sugar your children are consuming at a time. Here are a few tips to help you get through this sugary holiday:
Schedule a specific time to eat Halloween candy so that they aren’t gobbling it throughout the day and sometimes into the night. A good time to dip into the candy bag is immediately after dinner. That way, their healthy meal won’t already be spoiled. And often, they’ll be full enough from dinner that they can better moderate how much candy they eat. Be careful not to set the Halloween treat time too close to bedtime.
Follow up with prompt brushing. For starters, it’s imperative to get that sugary coating off their teeth as soon as possible. Second, a brushing schedule puts an end to treat time. A squeaky clean mouth may deter kids from eating candy again too soon.
Bonnie works at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers as a Certified Health Counselor. Natural Horizons Wellness Centers offers a wide range of services including dentistry, pain management, and weight management.