Every year, children walk down the street dressed as their favorite superheroes, princesses, and movie characters to collect candy from our neighbors. I have always enjoyed trick or treating, but as a dentist I know one trick that needs to be watched out for—the nasty side effects of all those sweet treats.
Here are five tips to help keep your children’s mouths happy so their smiles don’t start to look like the Jack-O-Lanterns on your front steps!
- Find a healthy balance. Everyone is going to enjoy at least a couple sweets during Halloween – you don’t have to deny yourself or your children a littleholiday fun! However, it’s important to balance those sugary foods with healthy ones. The saliva your mouth produces while you’re eating will help to wash the sugar off your teeth.
- Drink more water. Drinking water will help to prevent tooth decay and rinse those sugary treats from your mouth. Avoid sodas: trick-or-treaters are already getting more
than enough sugar from the candy!
- Establish a “treat time.” Snacking on candy over a long period of time can be more harmful for your children’s teeth. Limiting candy time will help you restrict the amount of candy consumed and protect their teeth from too much sugary contact.
- Avoid more harmful candy options. Not all candy is created equal, and chewy and sour candies are amongst the worst for your oral health. Chewy candies can easily get stuck in the crevices between teeth, making it nearly impossible to wash it all away. Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down the enamel on your teeth. Choose healthier options like dark chocolate, sugar-free lollipops and hard candies.
- Brush, floss and brush some more! Don’t forget – the best way to protect your oral health from sugary sweets is to brush and floss often! This is especially important immediately following your “treat times!”
Dr. Jeff Beal is a practicing dentist at Canyon Dental Clinic in San Antonio, TX.