If the changing leaves, cooling temperatures, and pumpkin-flavored everything haven’t tipped you off yet, Halloween is just around the corner. Sweet treats are one of the best parts of Halloween, especially for kids! But is it possible to enjoy Halloween candy and avoid those pesky cavities?
How to Protect Teeth This Halloween
1. Understand How Different Candies Affect Teeth
You may already know that sugar harms teeth, but the makeup of the treat can cause different issues. Here’s how a few beloved Halloween candies wreak havoc on little teeth.
Sticky candies, like taffy or those filled with caramel or nuts, get lodged in the grooves of your teeth and remain there for extended periods. The longer sugary foods sit on the surface of your teeth, the longer harmful bacteria feed off of them, producing cavity-causing acids.
A good rule of thumb? The stickier the candy, the more likely it’ll cause tooth decay.
Hard candies, like suckers or hard caramels, dissolve slowly, feeding bacteria in your mouth with a steady sugar stream. Even trying to bypass this issue by crunching these candies can be problematic – since they are so hard, you may end up with a chipped tooth trying to crack through them.
Sour candies are another candy culprit – their high acidity can quickly break down the tooth’s protective enamel, leaving teeth more susceptible to cavities, tooth decay, and other oral health problems.
Alternative: Sugar-Free Candy and Solid Dark Chocolate
Sugar-free candy is a great way to enjoy Halloween treats while minimizing harmful side effects. Solid chocolate, especially dark chocolate with no sticky centers, is another option that’s not too hard on teeth.
Want to know more about how sugar impacts your teeth? Our blog: “Does Sugar Cause Cavities? Tooth Truth or Mouth Myth,” goes further into the topic.
2. Talk Through the Impact of Candy
Halloween can be the perfect time to teach children good oral health habits without completely depriving them of sugar-coated joys. Simple lessons in moderation and explaining how tooth decay happens will go a long way to helping kids learn the importance of dental health.
Use the influx of Halloween treats to teach kids the importance of monitoring their candy intake and making healthy choices.
3. Limit the Amount of Candy
This may sound impossible, but it’s not. Here are two foolproof ideas to try limiting the amount of candy in the house when trick-or-treating:
- Give children a smaller bag to fill with candy as they go house to house. This will encourage them to take less because their bag will look fuller.
- Set a limit on the number of places your family visits. Limiting visits keeps candy collecting from getting out of hand.
After trick or treating, have them sort their treasures! Choose a number and let them pick out that amount of candy from those they want the most (be sure that amount is appropriate for their age). The rest of the candy goes out of sight. Freeze extra treats for another time or give them away.
Set ground rules for how many pieces your kids can have each day – allow them to pick one or two pieces per day or save them for weekends or rewards.
4. Designate a “Treat” Time
With their candies chosen, designate a “treat time” for kids to eat their candy. This helps promote the idea that eating sugary snacks isn’t an all-day thing and helps them understand when they can look forward to their treat.
Scheduling treat time right after mealtime is a great way to limit cavities because your mouth is already producing extra saliva, which helps rinse your mouth.
5. Reinforce Daily Routines
Use Halloween to teach and reinforce proper brushing and flossing techniques by setting up your child’s brushing routine. Remember, consistent brushing will help remove plaque buildup from sugary candies and chocolates they’re eating. And don’t forget to floss! Flossing is just as essential to remove bits of food that can get stuck between teeth.
Teaching kids about preventive dental care and the long-term benefits of having healthy teeth can go a long way to a lifetime of healthy habits.
Should I Brush My Teeth After Eating Candy?
Yes! After those sugary treats, rinse your mouth with water. If you have time, thoroughly brush your teeth. After enjoying a stickier candy, floss, too.
6. Schedule a Dentist Appointment
It’s not just Halloween night that has your mouth in cavity fright! Sugary snacks can haunt your teeth well past Halloween. Schedule an appointment with caring, empathetic dentists like the ones at Dakota Dental. Getting a fluoride boost at this time can do wonders in protecting teeth, especially for young ones!
Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Eating Candy?
If your teeth hurt after eating candy (or in response to extreme temperatures), it’s likely a sign that they’re sensitive or damaged. Sensitivity could come from tooth enamel loss or cavities. If it’s bothering you, schedule a dentist appointment.
Don’t Get Tricked By Your Treats
Dakota Dental also has plenty of additional preventative dental care tips for patients. Need to see one of our trusted dentists? Schedule an appointment for you and your family by contacting the family dentists at Dakota Dental today.