Trick or Treat – Halloween Candy Dental Survival Guide
Tis the season for adorable princesses, firefighters, ghosts, and goblins to swarm the streets in search of edible treats. Whether your child plans to dress as a basketball player, superhero, skeleton, or movie character, they’re sure to have one thing in common with the other trick-or-treaters: Halloween candy cravings.
Although we’re a pediatric dental practice, we understand that kids are kids, and Halloween candy is a big part of the festivities. Here at Jenkins Dentistry for Kids, we know that balance is key.
Some candies aren’t too bad in moderation, and others can be detrimental to your dental health.
Ingredients play a major role, as does the exterior material. Let’s dive in for a closer look at some of the best and worst candies on the market, brought to you by Dr. Jenkins and the American Dental Association.
Worst Candy for Your Teeth
While sugar content is something to keep in mind, there are additional factors to consider when it comes to a specific candy’s impact on teeth. Overall, these are considered the worst candies for your pearly whites:
Sticky Candy & Popcorn Balls
Any candy that is sticky or tacky is bound to have long-lasting effects, and not the good kind. Think of the last time you had a Starburst, Airhead, taffy, or caramel; remember the lingering pieces that randomly resurfaced long after you’d thrown out the wrapper?
For kids, it may seem like the gift that keeps on giving, but as a well-informed adult, you know that those persistent pops of flavors have been attracting bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay. The longer the candy stays in your mouth, the more likely it is to cause dental issues.
Similar to sticky candy, the main problem with hard candy is the amount of time that it loiters in your mouth, bathing your teeth in sugary saliva. In addition, hard candies have also been known to break teeth! Trick or treat? Sounds like hard candies offer both, which could leave you with more dental bills and office visits.
Is your mouth watering at the thought of sour candy? Sour Patch Kids, sour Skittles, or any other pucker-inducing treat labeled with the “S” word are highly acidic, which can weaken your enamel and increase cavity susceptibility.
Gummy bears, gummy worms, Swedish Fish – you name it, they’re all the same in terms of their negative effect on dental health. Gummies cling to teeth, which of course leads to the same aforementioned issues of cavities and tooth decay. And yes, this also applies to fruit-shaped gummies, which have absolutely no real fruit inside of them, unfortunately.
“Best” Candy for Your Teeth
Fortunately, chocolate is on the Tooth Fairy’s “Nice List”! Dark chocolate is the best option, as it’s the lowest in sugar and is a known source of antioxidants. Healthline.com states that it also may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
The best part about chocolate, though, is it is much less likely to get stuck in your teeth! It’s also eaten somewhat quickly, so the sugars don’t linger on the teeth as long.
Tricks for Your Treats
Regardless of the candy you or your child choose to eat, the most important piece of the puzzle is aftercare. Of course, brushing your teeth promptly after eating candy would be ideal, but it’s not always practical, especially when you’re out and about. When possible, keep these tips in mind:
- Encourage your child to drink a full glass of water during and/or after eating candy. This will help wash away the majority of the sugar they just ingested.
- Try to time candy consumption with mealtime or a well-balanced snack. An apple is a great temporary toothbrush!
- Make it a teachable moment: Give developmentally appropriate explanations to your child about responsible candy consumption. Set limits and be sure to follow through, but be sure that they’re a part of the process. This helps your child take ownership and will make them more likely to form healthy lifelong habits.
Why is it important to act quickly after eating candy?
In an interview with Today, ADA spokeswoman Dr. Mary Hayes said, “The process of decay peaks within 20 minutes of eating a sugary snack… (and) the results linger in there for hours afterwards.”
Alternatives to Halloween Candy
What do dentists give out on Halloween? It depends on who you ask.
According to a survey done by the American Dental Association, 76 percent of dentists generally give out some type of candy (some with a toothbrush, while others opt for full-size candy bars!)
There’s certainly no harm in joining the fun of giving out candy for Halloween. Dentists enjoy a tasty treat now and then, too! However, if you’re interested in alternatives to candy, or you want to offer a variety of items, here are some ideas:
Who doesn’t love stickers?! They can be used for many things, and best of all, no correlation to cavities!
These may not be the most environmentally friendly, but boy are they helpful when you’re on-the-go and need a thirst-quenching pick-me-up! Plus, don’t forget the benefits of rinsing away sugar throughout your candy-crushing adventures.
As for your personal Trick-or-Treat Crew, plan ahead by putting a water bottle into your own child’s candy sack before you hit the town. That way they’ll be ready for a refresh at a moment’s notice.
Jazz up your neighborhood with neon lights in the form of necklaces and bracelets! Parents will thank you, too, as their little ones will be easier to spot as the night goes on.
These are very cost-effective and provide tons of fun as well as a learning experience for kids. There’s definitely an art to applying the perfect temporary tattoo. Bonus points if they’re glow-in-the-dark!
Schedule Your Appointment in Shawnee or Lenexa
At Jenkins Dentistry for Kids, we strive to make each visit a memorable experience for every family that walks through our doors. We will treat your child as a kid first, and a patient second. We believe that to establish lifelong healthy dental habits, children need to feel comfortable, safe, and encouraged.
Ready to schedule your appointment? Get in touch online, or give us a call: