Halloween is just around the corner! And you know what that means: plenty of access to a smorgasbord of free candy and sugary treats. While both kids and adults know that eating sugar can cause tooth decay, this knowledge is hardly enough to stop ourselves from eating candy on Halloween night.
Thankfully, there are ways to keep your own teeth healthy and protect young smiles — even on Halloween! These dental care tips and tricks will help minimize the damage to your family’s teeth as you enjoy all that Halloween has to offer.
Don’t Go Trick-or-Treating on an Empty Stomach
Just as you shouldn’t shop for food on an empty stomach, you shouldn’t take the kids trick-or-treating with growling bellies, either. When everyone’s stomachs are full of healthy, wholesome food it can help stop you and the kids from gorging on Halloween treats as you make your way through the neighborhood. Think of this as an opportunity to start a new Halloween dinner tradition that your family will look forward to year after year!
Set a Sugar Limit
While you already know that candy contains a high amount of sugar, some candies are worse than others. Try checking the nutrition information on the packaging of trick-or-treat candies (when possible). If you can’t find nutrition information on the wrappers, simply search for it online. If you notice that a certain candy packs in more than 20 grams of sugar per serving, it’s best to limit each person to having just one piece.
Keep Sugar Contact Short
Whether you’re sorting through your child’s bag of treats, or purchasing candy for Halloween night, always opt for the candies that dissolve quickly like chocolates and miniature candy bars. And when the kids come home after trick-or-treating, be sure to get rid of the worst Halloween candy for your teeth such as lollipops, caramels, gummies, and Tootsie Rolls. This will help keep sticky treats off the teeth and limit sugar exposure in the mouth. It’s also a good rule of thumb to have a glass of water after consuming candy in order to wash away any sugary or sticky debris.
Create a Candy Bank
During the days following Halloween, it’s a good idea to keep a candy bank for each child. This will help stop everyone from candy grazing throughout the day — something that can promote even more sugar exposure. Have your young family members make a daily withdrawal from the candy bank for a few days, and then try donating the rest of the candy to an assisted living facility or troops overseas. While some kids may be averse to the idea of a candy bank at first, remind them that the bank will help stretch out their candy load for a longer period of time!
Eat Candy with a Healthy Meal
Healthy saliva production increases as you eat nutritious foods. This means that eating candy with or after designated meals will help your healthy saliva rinse away sugar and candy particles. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), eating candy right after a meal is best if you want to reduce your risk of cavities. For the days following Halloween, make sure your family members only eat candy after meals to help keep tooth decay from forming.
Stay Away from Fruit
Because Halloween is a day that is filled with sweet treats, it’s best for your family to stop eating fruit — but only for the day! While certain crunchy fruits can be great for teeth and healthy for our bodies, they are still a source of natural sugar. Since your family will be eating a lot more sugar on Halloween, it’s best to snack on vegetables throughout the day instead of reaching for your favorite fruits.
Wait to Brush and Floss
Many people think it’s a good idea to brush their teeth right after eating sugary foods. But did you know it’s actually better for your oral health to wait for a while? It’s true! When you brush promptly after eating acidic foods such as candy, you may very well be damaging your teeth rather than boosting your oral health. Some acidic foods such as certain candies can soften your tooth enamel, so when you brush right after chowing down on some sweets, you can do a lot more harm than good. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should avoid brushing your teeth for a minimum of 30 minutes after eating acidic foods.
Note: While the family dentists at Capstone Dental don’t advocate the consumption of sugary foods and candy, the above guidelines can help your family decide on a few things that may help you have a healthier Halloween this year. Remember that if you must eat sugary foods, moderation is always key. And proper dental care like brushing, flossing, and regular teeth cleanings and exams are all important parts of keeping your family’s teeth healthy and cavity-free.