Halloween is about dressing up, having fun and, yes, eating candy! It’s okay for you and your kids to eat some, as long as you don’t overdo it and properly care for your teeth afterward.
We’re here to help make sure your family’s smiles stay happy and healthy. Here are a few tips to make this Halloween a little more tooth-friendly.
Halloween Treats to Avoid
The bacteria in your mouth love when you have sugar and feast on whatever is left behind after eating. In doing so, the bacteria produce a weak acid that contributes to cavities. There are many different types of treats kids can get, but these are the ones to avoid.
Sticky, Gummy, and Chewy Candy
Sticky and chewy candies are damaging to teeth because of how sticky they are. Small particles get stuck in the grooves and crevices of your teeth, making it harder for saliva to wash them away.
Examples: Gummy Bears and Worms, Swedish fish, Saltwater Taffy, Caramel
Sour candy has a higher level of acid than other types of candies, which is bad for teeth. This acid promotes the erosion of protective tooth enamel and leads to tooth decay.
Examples: Sour Patch Kids, SweeTarts, Pixie Stix
While hard candies seem harmless, the constant exposure to sugar can be harmful to your teeth. Since we suck on hard candies to make them dissolve, the more time our teeth are exposed to the sugars. Hard candies can also increase the risk of chipping or breaking a tooth.
Examples: Lollipops, Jolly Ranchers, Runts, Lemon Heads, Lifesavers
Better Choices for Halloween Treats
While still not the best thing for your child’s teeth, sugar-free candies are better than nothing. They have less sugar and less acid than other types of candy and some actually promote saliva production. Remember that saliva helps to neutralize the acid, dissolve food particles, and lower the pH balance of the mouth.
Sugar-free gum can help keep your child’s mouth healthy and free from decay. There’s no sugar to promote acid production, the chewing motion helps dislodge food particles that could be stuck between teeth, and it promotes saliva production.
Most sugar-free candies and gum contains xylitol, a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants, that doesn’t break down like sugar and helps maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. It protects teeth from decay by preventing bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Because bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. Read more about The Benefits of Xylitol for Cavity Prevention.
Snack-Sized Pretzels, Crackers, or Trail Mix
Snack-sized bags of pretzels, crackers, and trail mix can make an excellent compromise between vegetables and candy. These kinds of snacks are not sticky or in sugar either, making them much easier on little teeth.
Make a Halloween Candy Plan
Before Halloween, sit down with your kids to create a plan of what you will do with treats and candy. Determine how much candy they can eat, when they can have it and what to do with the leftovers. This also is a really good time to explain the importance of maintaining proper dental hygiene.
Allow Kids to Enjoy Treats in Moderation
Set a specific “Halloween Treat” time, whether after dinner or when they are done with an activity and allow only a few pieces at that time. When kids know they have a specific time they can enjoy their goodies, they’re less likely to think about candy at other times during the day. Limiting the times when they can eat candy is also better for their overall dental health. Grazing on candy and sugary treats all throughout the day increases the time in which teeth are exposed to the acid in sugars, which increases the risk for cavities.
Brush and Floss Right After Eating Treats
Make sure everyone brushes and flosses thoroughly after eating candy. If you can’t brush, then swish and rinse with some water, then brush and floss as soon as you can.
Contact Growing Health Smiles Today
Whatever steps you take to protect your child’s teeth this Halloween, maintaining check-ups and cleanings can help prevent long-term tooth decay. Contact Growing Healthy Smiles in Fleming Island, FL. today! Call us at (904) 215-7800 or request an appointment online.