The Best and Worst Halloween Treats for Your Teeth
Halloween is fast approaching and that means time for trick-or-treating and lots of candy for both kids + grownups. But that yummy candy can bring about problems for our teeth – from tooth decay to eroding enamel.
Author Dr. Susan Maples, writes in her book if you do it right, Halloween can still be lots of fun without causing all kinds of dental problems. “This is indeed the holiday that makes dentists cringe because of all the sugar, high acidity levels, and gooey-ness found in most candy,” Maples says. “But moderation and making smart choices can make the difference between a good time and tooth decay.”
Here are some of her tips:
- Limit sticky or chewy treats. Tootsie Rolls, taffy, gummy worms, and caramel-filled candies become easily lodged in the groves on the biting surfaces of teeth and are hard to remove. And that leads to tooth decay.
- Limit sour candy. Here’s a wakeup call: The acidity in one piece of sour candy is enough to potentially start the tooth erosion process. Add that touch of sourness to a hard or chewy candy that can get stuck in the grooves in your teeth, and before you know it tooth enamel starts to disappear.
- Eat Halloween treats only after a meal and in small quantities. Many kids fill up on the overwhelming quantity of candy, leaving their bodies to run on sugar and empty calories. A burst of artificial energy is followed by fatigue and sluggishness. Always eat a balanced meal before indulging in candy. Remember: only small quantities of candy at a time because a little piece of candy packs a lot more sugar than you realize.
- Drink more water. If you do consume a lot of candy on Halloween, drink water with fluoride to help prevent cavities from forming. The additional water swishing through your mouth might help remove some sticky substances that might adhere to your teeth.
- Find alternatives to candy. Halloween can still be plenty of fun without the dangers of tooth decay. Instead of candy, consider giving out something non-edible such as pens, pencils or other school supplies. Or maybe a bottle of bubbles, coloring books, rubber balls or other small inexpensive toys.
The most tooth-friendly candy? If you hand out candy, the best option is sugar-free gum that is naturally sweetened with xylitol. This won’t attract bacteria or lead to plaque; in fact, it may actually help prevent cavities.
Use this time to teach healthy dental habits. Halloween is the best time to teach your kids healthy oral home-care habits. After they’ve eaten some candy, show them the right way to brush their teeth and floss. Let them know that good oral care is something to be maintained all year long.