Halloween is just a few days away. If you have young children, they are most likely excited about putting on their costume and going trick-or-treating on Thursday. This Halloween ritual is a favorite for many kids, and for good reason. What can be better than coming home with a giant bucket of candy? There’s nothing wrong with letting your kids enjoy some Halloween candy, but it’s important to have a plan in place for making sure these sweet treats don’t cause cavities.
Dr. Greenhalgh and our entire team hope your family has a fun Halloween, and we want to make sure you know the steps to take to minimize the risk of cavities for your children while they enjoy their candy over the next few weeks. The following tips are a great way to keep your children’s teeth healthy after Halloween.
Know What Candy to Avoid
If your kids are chocolate lovers, you’re in luck. In general, the sugary residue from chocolate rinses off your teeth faster and more easily than other types of candy. As a result, chocolate treats are less harmful than other items your children will receive while trick-or-treating.
While your children can eat chocolate candy, the following items should be avoided:
- Hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, sucking candies, lollipops, etc.)
- Sticky and chewy candies (caramel, taffy, gummy bears, etc.)
- Sour candies (Sweet Tarts, Sour Patch Kids, etc.)
When eaten properly, hard candy will slowly dissolve in your mouth, causing the sugar to remain in contact with your teeth for a long time. This can increase the likelihood of cavities. When kids are impatient and try to bite down on hard candies, it can potentially result in chipped or cracked teeth
Sticky and chewy candies often get stuck in the grooves between your teeth, making them hard to clean. This increases the amount of time your teeth are exposed to sugar, which may lead to cavities. Sour candies are highly acidic and can wear away tooth enamel.
We recommend that you sort through your children’s bag of candy before you let them eat anything. This gives you an opportunity to remove the items that are most harmful for their teeth.
Eat Halloween Candy with Meals
Instead of allowing your kids to snack freely on their Halloween candy, limit its consumption to mealtimes. This provides several oral health benefits:
- Fewer opportunities for your children’s teeth to be exposed to sugar
- Your children will most likely be full after meals, causing them to eat fewer pieces of candy
- The increased production of saliva while you eat will help rinse sugar from your teeth
Establish Limits on Candy Consumption
There’s no rule requiring you to allow your kids to eat all the candy they receive on Halloween. We recommend setting the following guidelines on candy consumption:
- Set limits on the number of pieces of candy you allow your children to eat each day
- Only allow your kids to eat their candy once per day
- Establish a time limit on candy consumption (we recommend no more than a few weeks) and get rid of any remaining candy after this time period
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene habits are essential when consuming Halloween candy. Your kids should always brush twice a day and floss once a day, but we recommend the following additions to their oral hygiene regimen while they’re eating lots of candy:
- Drink a glass of water after eating candy to help rinse sugar from their teeth
- Chew sugarless gum containing the ADA seal for about 20 minutes after eating candy in order to increase saliva production
- Have your kids brush and floss shortly after eating candy
Visit the Dentist
Even if you take all of the steps listed above, your children will still experience an increased risk of cavities due to all of the sugar they are consuming after Halloween. Therefore, we recommend that you schedule a dental cleaning for your children in late November or early December. This is the most effective way to remove any plaque and tartar caused by this candy consumption before cavities develop.
Schedule an Appointment at our Lakewood Dental Office
Please contact Dr. Scott Greenhalgh using the form on this page or call 303-988-9060 today to schedule a dental cleaning. We serve patients in Lakewood, Denver and the surrounding areas of Colorado.