Halloween is just around the corner, which for most kids means lots of candy! But the holiday can also present parents with a number of health challenges, especially when it comes to their children’s oral health. Halloween can and should be fun, but it’s important to have a plan so that you and your family don’t overdo it on the sweets. Here are eight tips to help you keep your Halloween as healthy as possible.
1.) Choose wisely.
Believe it or not, some candies are better for your teeth than others. Try and avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long period of time. The length of time sugary candy is in your mouth plays a huge role in tooth decay. Choose candies that dissolve quickly or kinds that are chewable.
2.) Only have candy with meals.
Next, we recommend that you only eat your Halloween candy with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals, which helps to cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. Additionally, saliva helps to rinse away food particles.
3.) Avoid sticky treats.
Sticky things, especially candy, cling to your teeth. The stickier candies such as taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva. The longer the candy stays on your teeth, the higher the risk is for developing tooth decay. If you do indulge in sticky candy, be sure to brush and floss soon after.
4.) Moderation is key.
Just like everything, too much of anything isn’t a good thing. The same rule applies to candy. Limit your candy intake to a set number of pieces per day. Your teeth AND your body will thank you.
5.) Hydrate with fluoride.
Give your teeth a little boost this Halloween with fluoride.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. It helps to prevent tooth decay by making your teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in your mouth. Additionally, it reverses early tooth decay.
If you drink bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.
6.) Keep it in the candy.
Since you’re going to be eating candy for the next few weeks, it’s important to cut out the sugar from your liquid diet. When your teeth come in contact with beverages that contain sugar, your risk of tooth decay is increased.
This includes soda, sports drinks, and flavored waters. Your teeth are already more vulnerable during the holidays, and by cutting out sugary drinks, you’ll help your body balance things out.
7.) Consider donating.
We know it’s tempting to keep your Halloween candy laying around, but we recommend you have your family pick out their favorites and donate the rest. There are a number of great charities that will gladly take in your unused candy. Operation Gratitude is a favorite organization of ours. They collect and donate sweet treats for our deployed troops and first responders. You’ll be doing something good for yourself and others.
8.) Chew sugar-free gum.
Chewing sugarless gum for at least 20 minutes after mealtime helps to reduce tooth decay. This is because increased saliva flow washes out food and neutralizes the acid produced by bacteria. If you’re craving something sweet, but you’re over your limit on candy for the day– grab a piece of sugar-free gum.
We hope you have a very safe, happy, and healthy Halloween. As a reminder, if it’s been over six months since your last cleaning appointment–you’re due! Make one today.
Dr. Randall Burba is an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry accredited dentist, with a practice in Salem, Massachusetts. He considers himself an artist–with teeth and beyond! He often paints, draws and has a passion for woodworking.