Fall into October and get ready for a Spooktacular Halloween! This is one holiday that many children (and grown-ups like myself!) look forward to all year. Families pick and decorate pumpkins, some create and wear creative costumes, and many end the night with a fun-filled jaunt of trick-or-treating.
Trick-or-treating can be loads of fun, but we understand that many parents worry about the effect the larger amounts of candy and treats can have on teeth. We also know most children won’t stop at just one sugary treat on Halloween and, honestly, that’s okay! As long as you create a solid plan ahead of time and maintain proper dental hygiene, your teeth will be happy and healthy after all of the fun and festivities.
To help you navigate the night, we’ve decided to offer you a few recommendations and tips for how to be cavity-free this Halloween.
Make a Plan Ahead of time!
Before you begin all of your Halloween activities, be sure to set some candy guidelines rules. Kids are often okay with rules as long as they know them in advance. If you set a candy limit, be sure to try and stick to it! Make a decision on how many pieces your child can have Halloween night and the subsequent nights following. Try to encourage more chocolatey treats (dark chocolate is my fave!) and less sticky and gummy ones as chocolate will be more likely to melt off from teeth and be less cavity-causing. There are also great Xylitol options out there now which actually help inhibit bacteria-causing cavities. Dr. John’s is one of my go-to’s and they are actually having a Halloween sale right now, so check it out!
Carry water with you all night while out trick-or-treating and offer it after any candy and this will help rinse sugars and acids of the teeth. And of course, please FLOSS and BRUSH well that night before bed with nothing but water after.
The best time to eat candy is after a meal, so try to plan your candy-dispensing-fun after Halloween night around a meal. Salvia production increases while we eat and helps counteract the harmful bacteria.
We understand that with the pandemic, trick-or-treating may be a little different this year. Please remember to wear your mask and practice social distancing, even if just visiting friends or family (your pods). If you are going out at night, be sure to be bright! A light-up necklace, glow sticks, or reflective tape can be the difference between safe and injured.
Tooth-Friendly Candy Swaps
If you are giving out treats this year or want to provide some tooth-friendly alternatives for your own children, here are some of our fave recommendations…
Consider getting creative with fruits like by making fun fruit-sticks with items like grapes, berries, apples and bananas…all which are nutritious and better for your children’s oral health.
Another option for candy swaps are non-food alternatives such as Halloween-themed toys, glow sticks, bubble wands, and temporary tattoos. These options are inexpensive and fun for kids without the added sugar! Also, consider given out pocket change that you have collected from the year…a neighbor used to do this when I was a kid and she had a line down her driveway of kids waiting to grab a handful of peenies and the occasional nickel or quarter.
If you really want to give out consider chocolate especially dark chocolate. More on this below….
During the night
While you are out trick or treating, it is important to practice proper road safety. Obey all traffic laws and stay close to children on busy roads. Be aware of your surroundings and always look both ways before crossing.
Now onto the important part: candy! Be mindful of which candy you eat as each can affect your teeth differently.
Sticky and gummy candies can be messy and harder to clean off not only fingers but also your teeth. Sour candies tend to be very acidic, that’s why you pucker! However, that acid can break down the enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to cavities. The same can be said for sticky and chewy candies that can stick around between your teeth increasing the chance of a cavity. Candy doesn’t have to be harmful to your teeth if you practice moderation.
Chocolate is your best bet on a happy Halloween. Not only is it sweet, but it washes off your teeth easier than other candies. Baked goods without sticky dried fruit, gelatin treats, fruits, ice cream, popsicles, and yogurt are also tooth-friendly treats.
Remember to stay hydrated during the night by drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth clean between candy breaks. This also helps keep those sugars off your teeth.
Once you get home
If you’ve made a candy plan, be sure to stick to it. Everything in balance is OK and candy is no exception. Be sure to check candy ingredients for any that may be harmful to your child.
Unsure of what to do with all that candy? If you don’t want to eat it all, we understand and can help point you in other directions. Try a candy switch in your house, trade candies for prizes such as books or small toys. You can also donate your candy to appropriate organizations to help give out candy to others.
We understand that it can be tempting to just go to bed after such a fun night, but this is the one night you should prioritize brushing and flossing.
Your mouth is full of good and bad bacteria. Those harmful bacteria love candy as much as you do! While the bacteria may eat the left-over sugar in your mouth, they also produce acids that contribute to the formation of cavities, so it is super important that on a big night such as Halloween that you remember to brush and floss! We recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after a candy binge as the candy can leave your teeth’s enamel sensitive and demineralized and brushing right away may do more harm than good. Flossing is just as important as it cleans those areas between your teeth that toothbrushes can’t reach.
For more tips on how to keep your family cavity-free this Halloween or to book an exam after your Halloween fun, contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 971-978-0009.