Whoever said “candy is dandy” was not a dentist. Although we all love Halloween as much as the next family, we don’t love the after-effects of too many sugary treats.
With some guidance, though, you and your kids can sift through the night’s booty to find the healthiest treats and discard (or trade?!) the rest. And if your kids can’t resist some of the worst treats, we have ways of helping you handle that, too.
At AnnMarie Olson, DDS, PA, our expert dentists and the entire team want your family to have a Happy Halloween without an emergency trip to the dentist or a cavity on your next visit. Here’s how to keep your kids happy and their teeth healthy for Halloween and beyond.
Why candy is scary for teeth
The reason why sugar is unhealthy for your teeth starts with the bacteria in your mouth. Like kids, those bacteria love eating sugar. But, unlike kids, when bacteria eat sugar, they produce acid. That acid can damage the enamel that protects teeth, leaving them vulnerable to cavities and decay.
The longer the sugar stays on the teeth, the more likely it is to cause damage. If your kids can’t brush after a Halloween binge, at least encourage them to rinse their teeth directly after eating candy.
Whether stocking up your own candy bowl or sorting through your kids’ trick-or-treat bags, go for chocolate or sugar-free options.
(Almost) everyone’s favorite candy — chocolate — is one of the best bets for a Halloween treat. That’s because chocolate is the easiest to clean off your teeth compared to other sweets.
Dark chocolate is better overall, than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate usually contains less sugar than milk chocolate and has healthy antioxidants, which can be good for blood pressure and heart health.
Sugar-free candies are a good choice for two reasons — First, there’s no sugar (obviously!) so you don’t have to worry much about the sugar-acid cycle.
Second, sucking or chewing activates saliva production in your mouth. Saliva helps neutralize acids and prevents plaque buildup. Eating sugar-free candy not only saves your mouth from unneeded sugar, but also benefits your oral health.
… Not that
To preserve teeth and avoid cavities, stay away from treats that are sticky, hard, or sour.
Gummies and chewies
Unfortunately, the stickier the treat, the worse it is for your teeth. Treats like gummies and caramels stick to the nooks and crannies of your teeth and are hard to dislodge even with brushing and flossing. Plus, sticky and chewy candies can increase your chances of damaging dental work, including braces and fillings.
Jawbreakers might not break your jaws, but they could break your teeth. So can lollipops and other hard candies if you bite them. They’re also made to last, which means they spend a lot of time in your mouth releasing sugar.
Candies that make you pucker up contain both sugar and acid. In other words, they’re full of the two things that wreak havoc on your enamel very quickly. Pass on the sour candy and reach for the chocolate instead.
If your kids can’t resist the worst of the worst candies, encourage them to brush and floss within a few minutes after eating them. If that’s not possible, they should at least rinse their mouths well to get as much of the sugar and acid and gooey-ness off their teeth.
Don’t forget to book a post-Halloween checkup and cleaning, too! That’s a real treat for your teeth. Contact our friendly team by phone or use our online feature to make an appointment at our office in Austin, Texas.