Halloween is just around the corner. For most children, this means a golden opportunity to score free candy and stock up on sweet treats for the winter. However, this holiday can also present oral health challenges for kids and parents alike. Here are five Halloween candy tips to help the whole family keep their smiles healthy this year.
If you’re going to eat Halloween sweets, eat them with or right after a meal. Your mouth creates more saliva during meals, which washes away leftover food particles and neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria in your mouth.
Not all candies were created equal. Sticky items like gummies take longer to get rinsed away by saliva, increasing your risk for cavities. They can also dislodge dental restorations, like crowns. Hard candy can also be dangerous. Biting down on it can fracture a tooth, and sucking it on it bathes your teeth in a sugar coating that attracts cavity-causing bacteria.
For a sweet treat that isn’t as harmful for your smile, try chocolate. It might be sugary, but it can easily be washed off of your teeth by saliva.
You might be tempted to create a stockpile of candy that can last for months. However, your teeth will be better off if you limit your candy consumption. Consider picking out your favorites and donating the rest to someone who is less fortunate.
Soda, sports drinks, and flavored water may seem like great ways to replenish your energy, especially if you were up all night celebrating Halloween. But when you drink these beverages, you’re coating your teeth in sugar. It’s much healthier for your mouth (and your body) to stay hydrated with water instead. Water washes food debris off of your teeth and keeps your mouth feeling fresh.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), chewing sugarless gum for about 20 minutes after eating can reduce your risk of tooth decay. Chewing increases saliva flow, helping to wash away food particles and cancel out acids from bacteria. You might even consider giving out sugar-free gum to trick-or-treaters instead of candy to help keep their teeth healthy. Just make sure the gum has the ADA Seal of Approval.
If you’re not careful, Halloween could prove disastrous for your oral health. But as long as you follow these tips, you can enjoy the holiday while keeping your smile healthy and bright!