With ghosts, ghouls, and other ghastly beings ruling over Halloween, the holiday becomes a fright fest for people across the United States. For parents, one of the biggest Halloween horrors is the toll all of the sweets take on their children’s dental hygiene. The main objective for most kids on Halloween is to have a bag bursting with candy by the end of the night and then revel in their sweet bounty for days to come.
Although this may sound like a parent’s worst nightmare, there are plenty of strategies you can employ to help manage their sugar intake and still allow them to indulge in their Halloween rewards. Let’s take a look at a few of the best tips to keep your child’s dental health in tip-top shape and avoid a trip to the dentist’s office.
Eat Candy at the Right Time
To prevent their kids from going overboard on candy consumption, most parents already store Halloween candy out of their little one’s reach and regulate when they eat candy and how much they eat. But when exactly is the best time to open the candy gates?
Designate your children’s candy-eating time for shortly after mealtimes. The body’s production of saliva increases during meals as it helps you break down food for digestion. Conveniently, saliva also helps cancel out the acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and rinse away food particles. This will help eliminate any sticky residues or candy pieces that are lingering on your little one’s teeth and can cause a trip to the dentist.
Have Water on Hand
Water will have a similar effect on sticky candy residue as the saliva you produce after eating. If your child does have access to their candy at any time of the day, get them into the habit of drinking water and swishing it around their mouth after they eat their sugary treats. The water will help rinse away the sugar that clings to teeth, which can help prevent the sugar from damaging tooth enamel and causing cavities. Drinking water can also help balance out the pH levels in the mouth that sugar will otherwise unbalance.
When you encourage your kids to drink water after eating candy, be sure that it has fluoride in it. Fluoride helps to remineralize teeth, which is essential in preventing cavities. As over 65% of parents using bottled water didn’t know what levels of fluoride it contains, according to a study in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, use tap water instead. Most communities in the United States fluoridate water supplies, but that’s not always a guarantee when you buy bottled water from the store.
Choose Candy Cautiously
Not all candies are created equally. Certain candies are much worse for your dental health than others, making it important that you don’t allow your kids to eat too many of these more serious offenders. The stickier and chewier a candy is, the worse it is for dental health. Bits of chewy candy get stuck in the grooves and crevices of the teeth, making it much more difficult for saliva, water, or even regular brushing to wash them away. If those candy bits stay in there, it can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
Sour candies are also more detrimental to dental health. The high acidity content in sour candies breaks down tooth enamel, making teeth weaker. Candies that kids can suck on, such as lollipops and hard candies, are another kind to be cautious of. As they take a long time to dissolve, the candy stays in your child’s mouth for longer. This extended candy-eating session provides plenty of time for their teeth to become coated in sugar and for bacteria to transform that sugar into harmful acid. Rather than throwing out these harmful candies, consider giving them to organizations that take candy donations or participating in a Halloween candy buyback program.
While you try to get your kids to avoid candies such as gummies, caramels, and bubble gum, you can encourage them to eat the candies that are less harmful to their teeth. The better choices include milk chocolate candies, sugar-free gum, and snack bags of pretzels and crackers. Dark chocolate candy is the best choice, as it contains antioxidants that can inhibit bacteria from sticking to teeth. This is important for preventing tooth decay and gum infections that warrant a trip to the dentist. Even with the slightly healthier candy options, you’ll still need to remember to limit your child’s snacking in the treat-filled days following Halloween.
As you follow these rules to ensure your child’s next dentist visit after Halloween is a breeze, remember to keep it fun. Don’t let your worries over their sugar intake ruin the fun of Halloween trick-or-treating, as this part of your child’s life will be over before you know it. Have fun as you take the kids around the neighborhood and simply exercise a bit of care as they dive into their treasure troves of sweets.