Halloween is coming, and with that comes candy. Lots of candy. It’s a holiday that’s generally not good for either one’s teeth or one’s waistline. For most of us, though, completely resisting the candy bowl is just too hard. Depriving our kids of candy when all the other kids are getting it will only cause resentment and possibly mild rebellion. If your kids are going trick or treating, you want them to be happy and enjoy the holiday, but you also want them to be healthy.
So, short of only eating sugar free candy (not an option for everyone) or healthy snacks, what can you do to keep your teeth healthy during Halloween? Here are some tips:
Control the Amount
Don’t just eat all the candy you end up with, whether it’s what your kids bring back from trick-or-treating or what you have left over after entertaining the little ghouls and goblins. Don’t be afraid to toss out candy you don’t want. If your kids go trick-or-treating, don’t buy any extra candy for them and hide, store, or throw out leftovers.
Ration yourself to a certain amount of candy and toss out or store the rest. Chocolate, for example, can keep for ten months if stored in a proper canister or a zip seal bag. Candy corn can last six months. Most candy can also be frozen, although this can compromise the taste. In other words, turn leftover candy into a stash you can raid later rather than eating it all at once. You can even have a weekly treat ration through the winter. Alternatively, you can bring out the candy bowl when you have guests, spreading out candy consumption amongst more people.
Also, during “candy season” cut down other sugary treats. Have Halloween candy instead of, not as well as, cookies, sugary juice drinks, soda, etc.
Choose the Right Candy
Sugar-free candy is obviously the best choice. However, some people cannot eat sugar free candy for various reasons, such as sensitivity to artificial sweeteners. Others find that they notice the taste and simply don’t like it. If you do need to eat “regular” candy, then limit your intake of sticky candies such as taffy or gummy bears. These will stay in your mouth and against your teeth for longer. You should also be careful with gobstoppers and other candies that are sucked for a very long time, as well as sour candies that have a lot of acid. Limit your consumption of these candies and save more of them for later.
You should also limit raisins and other fruit snacks. Chocolate, unless you or your child are allergic, is often the best option as it washes off your teeth easily. Dark chocolate has less sugar than milk, and there are indications cocoa is actually good for your teeth. Candy that has nuts is also better for your teeth. If getting sugar free candy, check the label. Xylitol, which is common in sugar free gum, is extremely toxic to dogs, so make sure to keep it away from any canines in the household, along with the chocolate. Speaking of chewing gum, sugar free chewing gum is a great treat that helps your mouth stay healthy, especially if consumed after other treats to help your mouth produce enough saliva to wash away food particles.
Highly starchy snacks such as pretzels can also cause tooth problems, so don’t assume that just because a snack is overall healthy that you can overindulge in it.
Time your Consumption
The best time to eat your Halloween candy is after your meal. In other words, as a dessert. When you eat food, your saliva production goes up, which helps deal with acid and rinses away particles of candy. Also, setting a time of day at which kids are allowed to eat candy keeps them from snacking on it randomly through the day. This will also help kids build up good habits regarding snacks in general. Either enjoy candy together after dinner, or pack a piece or two with your child’s lunch for school. Hide the candy the rest of the time. Apply the same rules to yourself as you do to your children, which will help them be more willing to follow the rules as well as protect your own teeth. Also, having candy for dessert helps with the goal of cutting down on other sweets.
Clean your teeth shortly (but not immediately) after enjoying your candy. Also, make sure that you and your kids continue to follow good oral hygiene practices.
Consider Treat Alternatives
While nobody wants to be that house that gives out boring healthy stuff, you don’t have to give out candy for Halloween. Good fun alternatives kids will still enjoy include things like glow-in-the-dark stickers, small Halloween-themed toys, temporary tattoos, etc. Some people give out glow sticks, which are fun and help make sure kids don’t get hit by cars. Others might give out small bottles of water with Halloween stickers attached.
Avoid the popular alternative of juice boxes. Juice is also not great for kids’ teeth. When throwing a Halloween party, make sure not to give out too much soda, either. Non-food treats, if well chosen, can make you very popular. They are also a good option for your own kids if you want to give them something whilst keeping down the candy consumption.
It is possible for you and your kids to enjoy Halloween and have a fair share of treats without it becoming the season of tooth cavities (scary!). You need to practice restraint and moderation, and consider simple ways to keep candy consumption down and limit the damage done to your mouth in order to keep your teeth healthy during Halloween.
You should also keep up with your good oral hygiene habits and make sure that you and your children get to the dentist regularly. If you need to schedule a check up in Thornton, Colorado, or need more tips on how to keep your teeth healthy during Halloween AND the rest of the year, contact Barron Family Dental today.