Halloween is almost here. Time to get ready for a little old fashioned trick-or-treating. But, before you put on your costume and head out the door, take a moment to learn which candies are best and worst for children’s teeth. Making some tooth-smart decisions ahead of time can save your child from a visit to a dentist in State College.
Does It Stick? It’s Not a Good Pick
Sticky treats are among the worst choices from a dental health viewpoint. That’s because the candy stays on the teeth longer, giving decay-causing bacteria a chance to feast on the sugar inside.
Hard Candy Can Be Hard on Teeth
You know that CRUNCH sensation you experience when you bite down on a piece of hard candy? It can actually cause tooth chipping or even breaking. So teach your kids to use care when enjoying these treats.
Why Sour Candies Aren’t As Sweet As You May Think
Sour candy may seem like a safer bet. In reality, however, bitter treats are usually high in acid, which can erode tooth enamel.
The Good News about Chocolate
Believe it or not, the most maligned dessert of all may be the least harmful. Chocolate sticks to the teeth less than other choices, making it the treat of choice for tooth-conscious parents and kids. Dark chocolate is an especially good choice since it has less sugar than milk chocolate.
Tips for a Tooth-Friendly Halloween
Asking children to avoid all those tasty goodies in their trick or treat bag leaves many parents feeling like an All Hallows Eve version of Ebenezer Scrooge. If that’s the case with you, then never fear. Here are some ways to let them have their cake and eat it too:
- Encourage your children to brush and floss with extra care after enjoying their candy. Thorough flossing is especially important, as candy can easily get stuck between their teeth.
- Teach them to use an alcohol-free dental rinse as a finishing touch to their nightly tooth care regimen.
- Remind them to brush their tongue as well as their teeth. Believe it or not, most dentists recommend this as an important added step.
- Instead of binging on candy, encourage them to enjoy their treats a few at a time and only after a nutritious meal. This will encourage added saliva production, which is great for dental health.
- If you’re contributing to their candy stash, then consider adding a few packs of sugar-free ADA-approved gum to the mix. This will give them a burst of fresh flavor while keeping cavities at bay.
- Are you hosting a Halloween party? Sneak in a few no-sugar snacks such as cookies sweetened with aspartame (NutraSweet®) or sucralose (Splenda®). There’s no need to tell them of the switch. It can be your little secret.
Halloween only comes once a year. Make it a safe, fun and tooth-friendly holiday by following the tips in this post. That way they’ll be nothing to fear from your kid’s next dental checkup. We wish you and your loved ones lots of happy smiles in the days ahead.
About the Author
Dr. Donald Marks has been practicing dentistry in the State College area since 1973. He’s a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and a proud member of the ADA. You can reach his office online or by calling (814) 234-0329.