Halloween is almost here. You’re putting the finishing touches on the kids’ costumes, maybe you’ve already picked out and carved the family pumpkins, and the air has developed a definite chill.
And soon, the influx of candy will begin. For kids, there’s nothing better. For their oral health, it’s a scary situation.
Read on for lots of helpful tips on purchasing Halloween treats, for trick-or-treating on Halloween night, and for helping your kids decide which sweets to toss and which to enjoy (in moderation).
As you wander the candy aisles of Kessler’s or Walmart, are you overwhelmed by all the options? You may think that what you choose to purchase doesn’t really matter. It’s all candy, it’s all packed with sugar, and it’s all bad for kids’ teeth, right?
Well, while all candy should be eaten in small amounts and not overindulged in, some types are decidedly worse than others. One small thing you can do to help the oral health of the kids in your neighborhood is to fill your candy bowl with sweets that are not so bad for their teeth.
For certain situations — class parties come to mind — you may want to skip edible treats altogether. Head to the dollar store and stock up on colorful erasers, pencils, and stickers. Kids like them, and their parents will be happy too.
But, back to candy. Which types should you leave on the supermarket shelves?
- Anything gummy, gooey, sticky, or chewy. This includes gummy bears and worms, taffy, and caramel. These candies become stuck in the grooves of the teeth and are difficult to remove completely. They encourage the growth of bacteria, the formation of plaque, and eventual decay.
- Lollipops and hard candy are bad for oral health no matter how you choose to eat them. Chew them, and you could end up with a broken tooth. Suck on them, and you are essentially coating your teeth with a mixture of melted sugar and saliva that lingers on the teeth and promotes cavities.
- Any sort of sour candy contains acids that wear down the tooth enamel. The reason bacteria are so bad for your teeth is that they produce damaging acids. When you eat acidic foods, including tart candies, you are delivering the acid directly to your teeth.
- Fruit “snacks,” roll-ups, chewy granola bars, and even raisins may seem like healthier options, but they are just as bad as sweet, sticky candy for oral health. (And does any kid really want a box of raisins for Halloween?)
So what’s left? Which sweet treats should you buy to hand out on Halloween night?
- Chocolate is a great choice. Not only is it sweet and delicious, but it rinses away from the mouth quickly so doesn’t have a chance to do as much damage. Dark chocolate is better than milk, due to its lower sugar content. Dark chocolate studded with nutrient-rich nuts is even better.
- Sugarless gum is a Halloween treat that’s actually beneficial for kids’ teeth! When they chew it, they produce saliva. This helps rinse away bacteria and particles from candy and other food they’ve been eating.
Halloween Night Tips
Here are a few ways you can ensure your kids have a blast on Halloween night without overdosing on candy.
- Feed them a healthy meal that you know they’ll eat before trick-or-treating. If their stomachs are filled, they will be less likely to overindulge on the sweet stuff.
- Have them drink plenty of water. Water helps keep mouths clean. You may even want them to bring a reusable bottle filled with tap water when they trick-or-treat. Why tap water? It contains tooth-boosting fluoride.
- At home, go through your children’s candy bags and weed out the worst offenders. Allow them a couple of treats for tonight, and hold on to the rest to hand out gradually. If they still have too much loot, there are organizations that accept donations. (Or you can just bring it to work and leave in a common area.)
- If your child has trouble parting with any of their candy, it’s totally fine to bargain. Offer to “buy” it with a new toy, money, or whatever will be a good trade for your kid.
Follow these tips, and a fun and tooth-friendly Halloween will be had by all. Don’t forget to book your family’s next appointments at Aberdeen Smiles of Aberdeen, SD. You may get in touch through our web form or by calling 605-277-9049.