Halloween is less than two weeks away, and parents are stocking up on candy. All the additional candy means there are more cavities on the horizon, and that eventually parents will be spending more money on trips to the dentist to fix the damage created by all of the tasty treats. But there are ways to avoid these dental dangers, and it all comes down to the types of treats your kids put in their mouths. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
#1 Try sugar-free gum
Kids love gum, so why not try to varieties that are sugar free. “As long as the gum has flavor, your children will most likely not even know they are chewing sugar-free gum,” said Dr. Lela Farmer of Scuba Smiles for Kids. Unlike gum that is loaded with sugar, sugar-free gum does not promote cavities according to the American Dental Association. When you chew, you stimulate the flow of saliva, which washes away the acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth that can cause bad breath and tooth decay.
#2 Limit the time sugar can attack the teeth
When you’re shopping for sugary snacks for Halloween, buy candy that can be eaten quickly such as miniature candy bars. “Also, when you’re home from trick-or-treating” get rid of those hard candies that increase the amount of time teeth are exposed to sugar,” said Dr. Farmer. Delta Dental says to encourage your child to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting and to follow that up with water and immediate toothbrushing.
#3 Go straight for the chocolate
Chocoholics will love this tip! “Any kind of candy that can rinse off the teeth more quickly is a big plus when it comes to avoiding cavities,” said Dr. Farmer. “If your child has a chocolate bar, and then washes it down with water, the residual impact on your child’s teeth will be far less than the sticky or gummy candies that are pervasive during Halloween.” In addition, patientconnect365 reports that if you stick with dark chocolate, there are additional, healthy upsides, such as antioxidants and fiber.
#4 Mix candy with healthy foods
Instead of permitting your children to snack on their Halloween candy, make sure your children eat their candy after their meals and pair that candy with food that promotes healthy teeth. Apple slices and baby carrots are kid-friendly choices, and by crunching down on fruits and vegetables after eating candy, your child is getting multiple benefits. First, chewing food increases saliva, which washes away the sugar. Second, because the veggies and fruits are loaded with fiber, the fiber also helps to scrub the candy away from the teeth.
“Also consider giving your child hard cheese,” said Dr. Farmer. “Cheese consumption actually raises the pH in your child’s mouth. And pH counteracts the production of plaque which leads to cavities.”
#5 Don’t graze
Instead of letting your child grab a piece of candy, every time they pass the candy bowl, consider permitting them just one opportunity a day to eat their candy after a meal. This strategy limits the amount of time teeth are exposed to sugar. “I love Halloween as much as the next person. But it should not be a holiday that lasts for weeks in your home,” said Dr. Farmer. “The longer the candy sits around your house, the greater the chance that your children will develop cavities from that candy, if it is not properly eaten.” Dr. Farmer advocates a candy strategy that may work for parents: give your children one meal where they get to eat as much candy as they want from their Halloween goody bag, after which the rest of the candy gets thrown away.
By following these tips, and making sure your children are brushing and flossing after they eat their candy, they can avoid unnecessary cavities and extra trips to the dentist. We want you to have a Halloween that is memorable and full of fun!