Halloween is the No. 1 holiday on the kid calendar. They get to dress up, go to parties and make a candy haul that can’t be challenged, even if you add Easter and Christmas together. With the Centers for Disease Control reporting that over 19 percent of children ages 2 to 19 have untreated cavities, Halloween drops down a few notches on parents’ lists. You probably do a stellar job of watching what the kids eat any other time of year. Sugar control goes out the window, however, when your child brings home a bottomless bag from a successful night of trick-or-treating.
Before the big night hits, educate yourself on which candy is capable of the most damage and which is easiest on teeth. Arm your little ones with some preventative items and then sit back knowing you’ve done as much as possible to protect their pearly whites.
Sticky candy and long-lasting candies that take forever to dissolve in your kids’ mouths are the hardest on teeth. According to the American Dental Association these are:
- hard candies
- suckers and lollipops
- gummy bears
These types stick to the teeth subjecting your kids to destructive acids for extended periods of time.
Sugar-free gum is the absolute best Halloween treat you can find in your child’s candy bucket. Encourage your kids to chew a piece after eating any of their other sugary booty. If you don’t consider gum to technically be candy, then others on the list include:
- candy bars that don’t contain sticky caramel or nougat
- chocolate covered nuts
- candy corn
- individually wrapped peanut butter cups
Not much of these candies remain in the mouth for very long, and what does gets washed away by saliva or with a swallow of water.
Treat Your Own Kids
Yes, it will bum out the neighborhood kids if you give out toothbrushes and travel-sized toothpaste for Halloween. There’s no law against doing it for your own kids, though, especially since they’ll get plenty of sugary treats elsewhere. WebMD says Halloween is the ideal time to change out your kids’ old toothbrushes for new ones, anyway. Assemble a Halloween treat bag for your children with a toothbrush and toothpaste, but also include a bottle of fluoridated water for sipping after a candy binge, dental floss and a packet of disclosing tablets to help them get in the habit of brushing more thoroughly. Slip in a few coloring sheets from Kool Smiles. The activity sheets along with a brand-new box of crayons are a sweet way to round out your dental health treat bag.
Reducing Chances of Halloween Damage
You don’t have to take Halloween — or the candy it brings — away from your kids just to ensure optimal oral health. That will only end up in tantrums and trauma. Instead, set a few rules and encourage already good habits. For example, specify when your kids can indulge in Halloween candy and how much they can have. It can be after school or right after a healthy dinner. Limit them to two or three pieces, and allow them to pick out what they’ll eat each day. Encourage them to drink water while they eat their treats and afterward, too. Hold your children to their regularly scheduled tooth brushing routine, and make sure they floss. You’ll want to help if your child is younger than 8 years old, but older children are capable of flossing on their own.
(Guest post Author: Kim is a freelance writer who covers health and fitness.)