As a parent with 3 kids, I understand not wanting to ruin the fun of Halloween treats. That being said, there are some easy steps you can take to reduce the chances of cavitites as well as help to instill healthy habits-this goes for aduts too! We know that when any food is eaten, the natural bacteria in our mouths produce acid. It is this acid that eats away at the enamel of our teeth and causes tooth decay. It is possible to minimize the effect of all that sugar.
Start with a discussion before Halloween, thinking of ideas about what the family can do with all the candy from trick-or-treating. Our school typically collects candy for the troops after Halloween. This is a great way to give back to those who serve and reduce the number of those tempations around the house. Begin to establish some Halloween candy-eating guidelines. For instance, tell your own trick-or-treaters that they can pick out 25 pieces (or less) of the candy they most want.
Second, after the candy is brought home, help your children pick their treats they can keep. Here are some examples of ortho-friendly treats: soft chocolates, peanut butter cups, milkshakes, gelatin, peeled, ice cream, and thin slices of peeled apples. Sticky, gooey candy and items like lollipops and jawbreakers cause the most damage because they stay in the mouth for a long time compared to other candy treats. Some examples of treats to avoid are caramel, nuts, licorice, taffy, jelly beans, hard pretzels, bubble gum, candy corn, lollipops, popcorn with kernels, tortilla chips, and ice.
Third, eat Halloween candy (or any candy for that matter) immediately after a meal because the acid production from eating has already been activated. Keep in mind that eating candy between meals is not a good idea because of the extra acid it generates in the mouth.
Fourth, everybody should brush thier teeth after eating. If this is not possible or practical, then drink some water to wash away the sugars and starches. The longer these substances stay on your teeth, the more likely they are to cause cavities.
Lastly, keep the candy stash out of sight so no one will be tempted by it – parents included!
The Academy of General Dentistry reports that our nation consumes more than 7 billion pounds of candy each year and Halloween trick-or-treating contributes to a large percentage of that consumption. If we teach our children to use moderation, to make good choices, and to practice good dental hygiene, then it should be a Happy Halloween!