For kids, Halloween is all about costumes, candy, and fun! Ghosts and goblins aren’t the only monsters lurking around on All Hallows’ Eve﹘ bad bacteria in your mouth can be a menace to your oral health. So, what can you do to keep your teeth (and your kids’ teeth) healthy during the official holiday of sugary sweets?
Not All Candy is Equal. All of them may be delicious, but some Halloween candies are worse for your teeth than others.
- Sticky, gummy candies are hard to clean off of teeth. Gummy worms, fruit snacks, and caramel will all stick to your teeth long after you’ve finished enjoying them. The longer the sugar-rich residue stays on your teeth, the longer the cavity-causing bacteria has to cast its spell.
- Sour candies are high in acid, which on its own is bad for your teeth. Acidic foods, such as the super sour hard candies and sour gummies, break down your tooth enamel and expose small pores underneath. This can cause tooth sensitivity and eventually cavities.
- Hard candies can crack or chip teeth if you bite down on them. If you eat hard candies, like lollipops or jawbreakers (ah!!), don’t bite into them. These also bathe your teeth in sugary liquid for a longer period of time.
- Chocolate is the holy grail of Halloween candy. Not only is it the most in-demand, it’s also the best bet for your teeth. All chocolate (as long as it doesn’t have sticky fillings like caramel) is easy to wash off your teeth. Also, dark chocolate usually has less sugar than milk chocolate.
Since candy consumption is almost inevitable at this time of year, let’s look at some other practical tips for keeping your teeth clean and healthy around Halloween and all year long!
It’s a Treat, Not a Snack. When indulging in Halloween candy, it’s best to eat it with your meals or right after. You produce more saliva while eating, which helps to rinse the food particles, sugar, and acids off your teeth.
Snacking on Halloween candy throughout the day is not advised. No one needs a constant stream of sugar in their diet anyways. Save the candy for dessert and snack on healthy foods that promote oral health like fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cut Out Other Sugars. The last thing you want to do is wash down your Halloween candy with a sugary drink. If you plan on keeping Halloween candy around the house, try to cut out the other sources of extra sugar in your diet. Replacing any drinks that are high in sugar (including fruit juices) with water also helps to wash away food particles. Almost all cities in the U.S. fluoridate their water to help prevent cavities, so tap water or filtered water is better for your mouth than most bottled waters.
See Your Dentist. Set up an appointment for the whole family to have their teeth cleaned after Halloween. This will ensure that you catch any issues before they get too bad. Talk to your dentist about a candy take-back program if you’re looking for a good way to get a surplus of tempting sweets out of your house.
Remember, the most important thing is to stay diligent with your daily care regimen. You should still be brushing with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, twice a day and flossing.
I hope you and your family have a BOO-tiful Halloween!