There are plenty of frightening things happening this month, from haunted houses to scary movies. Since we’re dentists, what really gets us worked up is all of the candy! We’re not monsters, so we won’t suggest having your family completely skip the treats. But we’ll encourage you to follow our tips for a healthier Halloween:
- Create clear rules for candy consumption
- Skip sour, sticky, and otherwise scary treats
- Give out treats other than candy
- Donate leftover candy to a good cause
Halloween is also a good time to begin booking family dental appointments so you can get them out of the way before the holiday season gets really busy.
Create Clear Rules for Candy Consumption
It’s best to create rules around your family’s candy consumption before your kids start bringing treats home. We suggest discussing unhealthy options that will be removed from your children’s stash rather than being eaten. Your family is likely to be OK with it if you agree to substitute a toy, healthier snacks, or cash for these unwelcome treats.
If you have a very young child, you can help them put out the treats for the Halloween Fairy. Like her relative the Tooth Fairy, she will leave a special something in exchange for the candy.
It’s also a good idea to set a limit on the amount of candy allowed each day. For instance, you may want to let them enjoy two or three pieces of candy after dinner.
Skip the Sticky & Sour Stuff
Three types of sweets do the most damage to children’s smiles (and adult smiles too): sour candy (gummies and suckers), hard candy (jawbreakers and toffee) and sticky candy (caramels and taffy). Avoid them when you can to have a healthier Halloween.
We’ve had to mend numerous fillings and other restorations that were damaged by chewy and sticky candy. It also clings stubbornly to your family’s teeth. When the bacteria in their mouths feeds on the sugar in the candy, it forms acid that eats into enamel.
Hard candies can also chip or crack teeth if your child bites down on them too hard. While you can contact us on an after-hours line for advice in dealing with dental emergencies, no one wants to worry about that on Halloween night!
Soft chocolate treats like candy bars are a much better alternative. The chocolate dissolves easily and is washed away by saliva, so it’s less likely to cause dental problems.
Choose Treats Carefully for a Healthier Halloween
You can do your part by handing out non-candy treats at home or at events like trunk-or-treats. Most kids enjoy these options:
- Chocolate-covered nuts or raisins
- Sugar-free gum
- Fruit snacks
- Small packages of crackers or pretzels
- Juice boxes (look for 100 percent juice)
Non-edible options like these can be fun too and are readily available at discount or party stores:
- Temporary tattoos
- Glow bracelets or glow sticks
- Small puzzles and games
- Vampire teeth
- Colorful erasers
Give Your Extra Candy to a Good Cause
One of the best ways we know to deal with surplus candy is sending it to soldiers. Two organizations who collect and distribute candy and to troops are:
- Operation Gratitude – This organization has been sharing leftover candy with soldiers since 2007.
- Soldiers’ Angels – This organization partners with businesses to collect candy. You can find locations in your area on their website.
We’re happy to help you have a healthier Halloween! Call 479-668-3109 for an appointment at Dallas Street Dental in Fort Smith, AR.