Minimizing Teeth Damage from Halloween Candy
Halloween is just around the corner, and your kids are excited about trick-or-treating for all those delicious, sugary snacks given out by friends and neighbors. As parents, you are undoubtedly concerned about the damage all those treats can do to your child’s teeth. It’s a valid concern because your children’s teeth are still developing, and sugar is notorious for damaging teeth. However, you don’t have to eliminate candy if you keep a few tips in mind to minimize the potential for damage.
Rather than setting out a bowl of Halloween candy for kids, put their trick-or-treat loot on a shelf and ration their access. A small piece of candy each day won’t do irreversible damage if your children also care for their teeth properly and eat a balanced diet.
Timing is Everything
Timing can reduce the damage done by sugary treats. Limit snack time for candy to after meals and avoid eating candy right before bedtime. If kids eat their candy after a meal, they will have more saliva to break down the sugars and acids. The saliva helps wash away leftover candy debris and acids that encourage bacterial growth.
Chocolate is Fine in Moderation
Most children love chocolate. Fortunately, small amounts of chocolate are less harmful than most other Halloween candy treats. Chocolate doesn’t stick to the teeth like hard or chewy candies. If your child enjoys dark chocolate, you’re in luck – darker chocolate has less sugar.
Avoid the Sticky and Sour Stuff
Sticky, gooey treats or hard candies are high in sugar and tend to last a long time. This puts the sugar in contact with children’s teeth for longer stretches, increasing the risk of cavities. Caramels, jawbreakers, lollipops, and any candies children are likely to suck on rather than chew will hold sugar around the teeth, bathing them in sugar and acids for longer stretches. Be willing to put these treats away for special moments.
Sour candies may not be as high in sugar but are packed with acids that give them that signature “sour pucker” taste. These acids break down the enamel that protects the teeth, leading to cavities.
Give Kids Sugarless Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum can help protect your child’s teeth by increasing saliva production to wash away sugars, cleanse away food particles, and neutralize acids. Chewing sugarless gum with the ADA seal for twenty minutes after eating sweets reduces teeth exposure to harmful sugars and acids. If kids eat candy at a party or family gathering, brushing after eating may not be practical. Chewing sugarless gum is the next best thing.
Choose Non-Food Treats
Whether you’re giving out treats to trick-or-treaters or want to swap out some of your kids’ candies when they get home with a bag full of sweets, consider non-food alternatives. Children are excited about all kinds of treats. Make trading their candies a game by offering stickers, colored pencils, or other small gifts in exchange.
Brush, Brush, Brush!
Make sure your children are brushing thoroughly after eating any candy. Rinsing with a children’s mouthwash also helps. Halloween comes just once a year, but vigilance is crucial to preventing the formation of new cavities when kids increase their sugar consumption. After the candy is gone, contact our office at San Mateo Office Phone Number 650-372-9292 to schedule a checkup and professional dental cleaning. Happy Halloween!