It might have sneaked up on you like a ghost in a Haunted House, but believe it or not, Halloween is upon us! Children across the country are staying up late with excitement, crafting plans to maximize their candy collection this year. And while that might sound like an overstatement, you should know that a recent survey by the ADA discovered that two thirds (65%) of children between the ages of 5 and 13 said that Halloween was their favorite holiday.
This is partly because kids love dressing up, but also, they love candy. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “the first ten years of my life, I think the only clear thought I had was, ‘get candy.’” And let’s be honest, some of you parents don’t mind enjoying all the extra candy during Halloween either.
Unfortunately, candy poses a threat to you and your children’s teeth. The high amounts of sugar and acid in many candies will only increase the rate of tooth decay. Since eating Halloween candy is practically unavoidable in most homes, we recommend you read this article to help ensure your children’s teeth do not become the scariest part of Halloween. We’ll discuss the top 5 treats to avoid, along with some helpful tips to keep those teeth clean and healthy this Halloween season.
1 Sticky Candy
Sticky candy poses a real threat for healthy teeth. Sticky candies include Tootsie rolls, taffy, Now & Laters, and other similar treats. There is a direct correlation with the amount of time sugar spends with your teeth to the amount of tooth decay sugar can cause. Because sticky candy can get stuck on your children’s teeth, sometimes for hours, it can cause a lot of tooth decay.
Not only that, but some candy is so sticky that it can even rip out an old filling. This can be a painful experience, and is much more of a trick than a treat.
Healthy Mouth Tip: Instead of chewing on sticky candy, choose some sugar free gum. It will provide you something to chew on, tastes great, and actually helps clean your teeth. The act of chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which in turn, helps cleans your teeth of sugar, acid, and other things that cause tooth decay. Of course, choosing to chew gum with sugar in it won’t actually help. The sugar in the gum will offset any benefits that gum chewing provides, so make sure you and your children chew sugar free gum with the ADA seal of approval.
2 Hard Candy
Like sticky candy, hard candy is a problem because it keeps sugar in your mouth for an extended period of time, encouraging tooth decay. Jaw breakers and lollipops may taste delicious, but they won’t benefit your teeth.
Don’t think that crunching into that hard candy to clear it will help things either. When you crunch on hard candy, little shards will get stuck in your teeth and can be difficult to remove. It can also have a similar effect to chewing ice, chipping teeth or damaging your gums.
Healthy Mouth Tip: Sugar free hard candy does exist, but still contains ingredients that can damage your teeth and you will still be tempted to crunch on them. Instead, eat more dark chocolate! Did you know that studies have shown that dark chocolate can actually fight tooth decay? There is a compound in cocoa beans that harden the enamel. And while the benefits are somewhat lost with milk chocolate (which contains more sugar), milk chocolate is still much better for you than hard or sticky candy because it can be washed away from your teeth so easily.
3 Sour Candy
Sour candies are often chewy or hard, so they are already problematic. But even worse, they are extremely acidic. In fact, some sour candies are almost as acidic as battery acid. This acid wears down the enamel that protects your teeth, leaving them exposed and prone to sensitivity or damage.
Healthy Mouth Tip: Don’t eat candy throughout the entire day. This prolonged exposure to sugar and acidic flavors can cause exponentially more trouble. Instead, focus the candy eating around mealtimes. Mealtime stimulates saliva and helps cleanse the mouth, quickly washing away the sugar and neutralizing the acid. While it can be tempting to take a piece of candy every time you walk past the candy jar, it is better to wait until meal time.
4 Dried Fruit
Dried fruit might seem like a healthy alternative to candy this Halloween, but it can be as problematic as sticky candy. Dried fruit contains significantly more natural sugar than fresh fruit, and of course, it is also sticky. This means the sugar from dried fruit can get stuck to your teeth and cause tooth decay. Instead of choosing dried fruit, enjoy some fresh fruit.
Healthy mouth tip: Don’t forget to brush your teeth! Brushing at night is particularly important for children who might be tempted to have a late night candy snack. Allowing the sugar to stay in their mouths overnight could really hurt their teeth. So make sure everyone brushes their teeth, at least twice a day.
While it is unlikely that your child will come home from trick or treating with a few cans of soda, the drink will likely be available at parties or in the home. Sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and some flavored waters will cause tooth decay. Since everyone’s teeth will already be under attack from the Halloween candy sugar, it would be wise to avoid Soda for a few weeks.
Healthy mouth tip: Instead of soda, drink water! While it may not be as fun or exciting, choosing to drink water will help wash away the sugar from your mouth. Drinking optimally fluoridated water has been shown to reduce cavities from 20 to 40 percent. Each time you or your child eats candy, make sure it gets washed down with water.
Don’t be afraid of the dentist
Halloween is full of scary moments, but visiting the dentist shouldn’t be one of them. After consuming all that sugar, it’s probably wise to come in for a check-up. Whether you need a pediatric dentist for your child or dental care for adults, we will make every effort to ensure you and your children are cared for. We have four convenient Dental Town offices in Alpharetta, Canton, Cumming, and Johns Creek. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.