In total, US consumers buy a whopping 300,000 tons of candy over the Halloween period, enough to fill the Titanic six times over. Moreover, studies reveal that kids eat around three full cups of sugar during the holiday - the equivalent of around 169 individual sugar cubes in a single weekend. Naturally, this extreme candy consumption has dentists and parents worried. Even short spells of high sugar consumption can spell disaster for children’s teeth.
So what’s the solution? How can you have a healthy Halloween with your children without damaging the spirit of the event? Let’s take a look.
1. Brush Teeth Immediately after Candy Consumption
If your kids are eating candies and chocolates throughout the day, get them to brush their teeth after each chomping session.
Because brushing does two important things. Firstly, it clears harmful cavity-causing bacteria out of the mouth. The brushing action prevents them from getting a foothold and causing damage. Secondly, fluoride toothpaste hardens the enamel, making it more difficult for sugar-munching bacteria to break it down. Hence, even if your children consume a lot of candy, brushing lowers their risk.
2. Replace Traditional Candies with Healthy Alternatives
Research shows that “food stickiness” is the most significant predictor of tooth decay. The more food particles can adhere to teeth, the higher the risk becomes. Most foods containing refined sugars and flours are sticky. Saliva can’t clear them away. However, many natural foods high in sugar, such as dates, are not sticky, even when blended.
Try replacing traditional candies with natural, unprocessed sweet foods that your kids will enjoy. For instance, you could make refined sugar-free date-and-nut candies. You could also change the type of food you serve at Halloween, focusing less on sweet options and more on savory alternatives.
3. Store Candy Separately
Don’t allow free access to candy all day. Instead, keep it out of sight for most of the time. Handy candy storage tips include:
- Keeping it away from sources of moisture
- Locking it in a combination lockbox
- Keeping candies sealed in their original wrappers
- Avoid freezing
4. Eat Candies with Meals
Another thing you can try is eating candies with meals. Eating alongside regular food increases saliva production, which may help clear away some of the sticky candy residues in the mouth.
5. Snack on Fruit
Fruit is nature’s candy. And while kids might not be as keen on it as regular candy, it can be a great substitute in some situations. The natural sugars help to meet their sugar wants while still being MOSTLY healthy. Furthermore, it fills children up, making it less likely that they will want lots of candy later on.
6. Avoid Hard Candies
Hard candies are potentially hazardous to teeth for two reasons. Firstly, children may attempt to chew on them, potentially cracking, chipping or breaking their teeth in the process. Secondly, hard candies tend to remain in the mouth for longer, giving bacteria more opportunities to feed and multiply, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
If you absolutely must have hard candies for Halloween, pick sugar-free versions instead. These will not lead to cavities.
7. Use Sugar-Free Bubblegum
Lastly, you may want to encourage children to use approved bubblegum on Halloween. It provokes extra saliva production which helps to neutralize harmful acids in the mouth.
Protect Your Kids’ Oral Health this Halloween with a Dentist’s Appointment with Signature Smiles
Halloween is a fun holiday where kids and adults get to take a break from being who they normally are and eating what they normally eat. However, a little balance will help. Aside from the tips above, make sure to set up an appointment to meet with a dentist. The team at Signature Smiles is here to help. Give us a call today to set your kids’ next appointment.