Halloween — particularly for children — usually means buckets full of candy. But it’s important to make sure their oral health doesn’t fully go out the window this October. Dr. Allie Miller of Pediatric Dentistry of Winter Park, a dentist in Winter Park, FL, highlights what you can do to make sure your child has both a healthy and happy Halloween.
Know the Worst Culprits
No candy is super great for your child’s teeth. But knowing and avoiding the worst ones can help them enjoy candies that aren’t as likely to harm their teeth. Sticky candies like caramel and toffee are the worst offenders. They’re more likely to cause dental cavities because they get stuck to teeth and are harder to remove with saliva or brushing.
Hard candy is another option that isn’t the best for a child’s teeth. If it takes a long time to dissolve, it’s releasing sugar into their mouth the entire time. If their teeth aren’t strong enough and your child bites down at the wrong angle, a dental emergency may be in store. Cracks, chips, and breaks can all be caused.
Eat Before Trick or Treating
Being full of a healthy meal makes it less likely that your child will crave sugary sweets. On an empty stomach, they’ll be tempted to eat themselves sick with candy. If they’re full, they’ll be less likely to want to binge the candy. Let them eat a piece or two to tide them over, and then you’re able to go through the candy to make sure the remaining candy is safe for them.
Portion Out the Candy
Kids often want to eat all of their candy right away. The more candy they’re eating at one time, the worse it is for their oral health. With the amount of candy many children get during Halloween, it can easily last a month or more. Reward them when they finish chores or get their homework done so that they’re only eating a piece or two at a time.
Consume Candy With Meals
Eating candy at the right time can make a lot of difference. When it’s eaten with meals or shortly after, there’s sufficient saliva production happening. This helps to rinse food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. Saliva also can balance out acids in your mouth that are produced by harmful oral bacteria.
Drink Lots of Water
While this is true all of the time, it’s especially true when sugar is involved. Water is also essential to saliva production and getting rid of harmful bacteria. Sugary drinks are one of the worst things for a child’s teeth. Combining sugary drinks with candy that’s also full of sugar is a recipe for tooth decay.