With Halloween just around the corner, the thought of free candy in large amounts can send both parents and dentists into a frenzy. Luckily, there are several steps you can take in order to make sure your kids aren’t wreaking havoc on their oral health this time of year, while still letting them enjoy their trick-or-treating treasures.
4 Tips for a Tooth-Friendly Halloween
1. Choose Candy Wisely
Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it’s a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time have an increased risk for tooth decay.
Candies to avoid include caramel, gummy bears, saltwater taffy, and dried fruit snacks, which get stuck in teeth easily. Also damaging are sour candies, which have high acid levels that can break down tooth enamel.
2. Timing Is Everything
Eat Halloween candy (and all other sugary foods) with your meals or shortly after mealtime. This is because saliva production increases during meals, so this helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Make sure children drink extra water as they trick or treat. This washes away sugar and keeps them hydrated. Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.
4. Everything In Moderation
Although sweets are blamed for much tooth decay, all foods — even healthy alternatives to candy, such as fruit and nuts — can promote tooth decay if eaten in excess. Children (like adults) should eat all foods in moderation. Read nutrition labels to avoid foods and drinks loaded with sugar, fructose and other sweeteners.
Most of all, practice good oral hygiene by making sure your child brushes and flosses every day, uses fluoride toothpaste and visits the dentist regularly.