Healthy smiles for Halloween

With Halloween comes trick-or-treaters, costumes and lots of candy. But sometimes costumes aren’t the only scary part of the holiday; tooth decay from too much candy can be just as frightening. Keep your kids’ teeth healthy on Halloween with these tips. 

  1. Limit hard candy. The longer candy is in the mouth, the more acidic damage there will be. Hard candy may seem less harmful than a chocolate candy bar, but the candy bar is eaten and swallowed quickly, allowing saliva to buffer the acid fairly quickly. Hard candy or a sweet drink can bathe the mouth in acid far longer, causing more damage.   
  2. Prohibit sticky candy and anything unwrapped. Parents should not allow their kids to eat sticky candy and anything unwrapped.
  3. Control overall candy consumption. Make sure all candy is wrapped, and control consumption. It is better to allow three pieces of candy for dessert than spread the three pieces out all evening. Parents should control when and how much candy is eaten.
  4. Make sure kids brush. Ensure tooth brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste after candy is eaten. The bacteria in the plaque on teeth feeds off sugar or carbohydrates to produce acid that demineralizes tooth structure. If your child is unable to brush, have them rinse their mouth with water.
  5. Avoid sugary drinks. Sugary drinks often leave acid between teeth where brushing doesn’t reach, but eating candy leaves a heavier load of carbohydrates on the teeth. Neither is beneficial to overall health or oral health. Because most of us like sweet treats, toothpastes are helpful with fluoride and demineralizing enamel. But nothing ever is better than preventing the demineralization in the first place by avoiding sugary drinks and candies altogether.
  6. Beware of eating too much candy. This is not only an oral health issue but a nutritional issue.  Eating a lot of candy with no nutritional value fills up a child, so they are not eating nutritional foods. Eating a lot of sour candies and chocolate can cause ulcers. Repeated consumption of candies can erode the enamel on teeth due to acids.
  7. Visit the dentist regularly. If a dental problem becomes extensive, patients go to the dentist and get quotes like $10,000 to restore teeth. If you visit the dentist more often, you can prevent a lot of disease, become aware of any potential issues, and plan for continued service needs. Children are far more conscious of smiles and pretty teeth than previous generations. Decayed teeth can become a social problem for them and cause future employment issues.
  8. What about adults? Sweets make you put on weight. There is no, or limited, nutritional value in sweets. It’s up to you to set the example for your kids. Sugar consumption has been associated with diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Pediatricians are seeing this in younger and younger patients who often require liver transplants. Limit your intake, or don’t have any at all.   

Eating too many sweets on Halloween or any time, can lead to an unhealthy mouth and eventually, an unhealthy body. For more tips on dental hygiene visit cdc.gov/oralhealth.