KEEP KIDS’ TEETH HEALTHY DURING HALLOWEEN
Halloween activities revolve around sweet treats, i.e. trick or treating, school parties, and trading treats with friends. It’s every kids’ dream - lots and lots of free candy - and for the parents, it’s a nightmare because candy equals cavities. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With our tips, you can find a balance between letting the kiddos enjoy the holiday and keeping them from rotting their teeth with too much sugar.
THE BEST (or lesser of two evils) AND THE WORST CANDY CHOICES
Hard Candy - The worst!
Hard candy has the potential to do the most harm because it lingers in the mouth. This leads to prolonged acid attacks which can lead to decay. Our tip: have your child sip on water while they suck on a hard piece of candy. The water will help rinse the sugar away instead of letting it marinate in their mouth.
Be picky if it’s sticky!
Sticky treats like taffy, caramel, and gummies linger - like an unwanted house guest - long after the treat has been enjoyed. Particles of these soft candies stick to the teeth, becoming a feast for plaque-causing bacteria. Our tip: try to pair a sticky treat with a hard snack like carrot sticks or almonds. The hard food will help to dislodge any remaining stickiness from the crevices in their teeth.
Chocolate - Everybody’s favorite!
Chocolate isn’t too bad because it washes off the teeth fairly easily. Our tip: be sure to have the kiddos drink a glass of water after indulging in a chocolaty treat. Also, keep in mind that dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate. So encourage them to pick dark over milk or white chocolate whenever possible.
Chewing Gum - You’re best option!
Although chewing gum also lingers in the mouth, it stimulates saliva production. Saliva naturally rinses the mouth, keeping plaque-causing bacteria at bay. Our tip: have your kids chew sugar-free gum as much as possible. Even better, look for brands that have the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Acceptance on the package.
USE THIS TIME TO TEACH KIDS GOOD ORAL HYGIENE
Think moderation, not deprivation. When kids feel deprived of something, it only makes that thing that much more irresistible. Not allowing them to have candy at all may lead to them sneaking treats behind your back and even unhealthy future eating habits. And of course we all know that overindulgence can also lead to unhealthy eating habits as well. It’s all about finding balance.
Our advice is to turn the treat season into a learning opportunity. Let your kids help decide what is a reasonable amount, of their candy loot, to keep. Take the rest to the office to share with coworkers or donate it to your local food bank, just get it out of the house! Then set limits on how many pieces per day they’re allowed to have. This way they feel like they get to have a say and then can look forward to treat time without constantly bugging you for one. You’re also sending a message that candy isn’t “bad”, but that too much can lead to cavities and therefore they should be careful about how much they consume. You’ve taught them two important lessons here; how to control their diet and that what they eat affects, not only their physical health, but their oral health too.
If you struggle getting your kids to drink water, try getting them to eat fruits and veggies that contain high volumes of water. These include watermelon, pears, melons, celery, and cucumbers. Aged cheeses such as cheddar, swiss, and monterey jack are also an option because they stimulate saliva flow. Have them eat these foods with, or after, their treats to wash away any remaining food particles. Always choose sugar-free candy and chewing gum whenever possible. And of course, be sure to have the kiddos thoroughly brush their teeth and tongue and rinse with a kid-friendly mouthwash after consuming treats as much as possible.
Follow our tips and you’ll have a much more pleasant and less stressful Halloween. Happy hunting!
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