Has everyone in your family picked out his or her costume? Are spooky and silly decorations popping up on neighborhood lawns? Yes, it’s that time of year again. Lots of fun for kids and lots of sugar to potentially damage their teeth.
Halloween may fall on October 31st, but every year, the flow of candy seems to start much earlier. There are parties at school and events around town. It all adds up to way more sweets than one child has any business eating. So how should parents allow their kids to have fun (and enjoy a reasonable number of treats) without overindulging?
Here are some tips on the best and worst types of candy for kids’ teeth, plus ideas for giving your children an exciting but tooth-friendly Halloween night.
Always remember to practice good oral hygiene and visit the dentist twice per year. If you live in the Longmont, CO area, book your family’s checkups at Silver Leaf Dentistry. Call our office at 720-504-2539.
Some Treats Are Worse than Others
Not all candy is created equal, at least in terms of its effects on your dental health. Some is fine to enjoy in limited quantities. Others should really be avoided altogether. Here are some of the worst treats for your teeth, and why.
Gummy bears, worms, and related species stick to the teeth and offer a steady supply of sugar to decay-causing microbes. Sour gummy candies are even worse, because they contain acids that also wear away at the enamel.
Taffy, caramel, or anything sticky or chewy are terrible for your teeth. Like gummy candy, they are difficult to totally remove from the grooves of the teeth. And the longer something sticks around, the more likely it is to cause decay.
Hard candy is bad for two main reasons. Some people like to chew on it, and this may actually cause a tooth to crack or chip. If you suck on it, your teeth basically become coated in melted sugar and are exposed to its harmful effects for a long period of time.
Anything sour should be avoided. Like the gummy sours mentioned above, sour candies contain high levels of acid. And acid — whether produced by bacteria or delivered straight to your teeth via your food — eats away enamel and leaves you vulnerable to cavities.
Popcorn balls may have an old-fashioned appeal, but they combine sticky sweetness with popcorn’s affinity for getting stuck between the teeth. When stale, they can become quite hard and can even break or chip the enamel.
Some people like to hand out non-candy options like fruit roll-ups, gummy fruit snacks, or soft granola bars. Well, due to their gooey, gummy, and sweet qualities, they are no better for your teeth than the candies mentioned above. And don’t be that house that hands out little boxes of raisins. While dried fruit does have some nutritional value, as far as your teeth are concerned, it’s just sticky sugar.
Which Treats Are Not So Bad?
Do you like chocolate? If so, you’re in luck. Chocolate is one of the better treats to hand out and eat on Halloween, because it tends to wash away easily and not linger on the teeth. Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate, due to its lower sugar content.
And, while chocolate should still be considered a treat and eaten in moderation because it does contain sugar, there is evidence that cocoa beans contain compounds that strengthen tooth enamel and help fight bacteria and plaque.
Sugarless gum is one treat that’s actually good for oral health. Gum stimulates saliva production, which helps keep the mouth clean.
On the big night, here are a few ways you can prevent candy overload.
- Serve a healthy, hearty meal before trick-or-treating. This way, your kids will be less likely to fill up on sweets.
- Have your kids drink plenty of water. Tap is best as it contains fluoride.
- Cut out other source of sugar, at least for this night. Skip the juices, sweetened yogurt, and pouches of pureed fruit.
- Sort out the worst candies (see above list) and toss or donate them. Let your kids pick a few from the remainder to enjoy on Halloween night, then keep the rest to dole out over time. If you’d like, you can offer to “buy” the candy with money or the promise of a toy.
Halloween is an exciting time for kids. Follow these tips, and your entire family’s holiday can be fun and tooth friendly!
To book an appointment at Silver Leaf Dentistry, fill out our convenient web form. Or call our Longmont, CO office at 720-504-2539.