Trick or Treat Your Teeth?
Halloween is around the corner, which for most children means bags of free candy and a chance to build a stockpile of sweets for the winter. No surprise, Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health and safety challenges, and questions such as these?
- How do I limit the damage to my children’s teeth?
- Is there such a thing as healthy candy?
- What do dentists give out on Halloween?
Well, here are some tips that will help keep your children’s teeth healthy!
How do I limit the damage to my children’s teeth?
Each year, Americans spend close to $9 billion on candy, and in October a lot of that candy will end up damaging the teeth of trick-or-treating children. You might be surprised to learn, however, that when it comes to causing cavities, not all candy is created equal.
Sugar has long been identified by oral health experts as a major cause of tooth decay and cavities. Naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar in candy and other foods and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes decay. When children chew sticky candies such as caramels or taffy, candy gets stuck on the surface and in between crevices. The longer the sugar is stuck to the teeth, the more time the bacteria have to feed on the candy and produce acid.
So here’s what you can do to limit the damaging effects of Halloween candy:
- Choose candy that can be eaten quickly and easily to limit the amount of time sugar is in contact with the teeth.
- Steer away from sticky candies like gummy fruit snacks, caramels, taffy, popcorn balls and other candies that expose the teeth to sugar for long periods of time.
- Limit consumption of sour candies that may contain acids (such as citric acid) to intensify the sour flavor. These acids can contribute to dental erosion and cavities.
- Encourage children to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting followed by a glass of water or a thorough tooth brushing.
- Encourage children to eat a good meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to fill up on candy.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
Is there such a thing as healthy candy?
Uhmm, no, not really. But there are some alternatives you can give out, and some things you can check when buying candy that will limit the damage:
Peanut butter cups are definitely better than hard candy or lollipops. For example, Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups and Unreal Peanut Butter Cups check all the “good for you” candy boxes: vegan, organic, gluten-free, sustainably sourced, fair-trade certified, and they weigh in at a mere 5 grams of sugar per cup.
Any candies made from organic fruit juice without added sugars, no corn syrup, dairy, nuts, gluten, or soy products are better than the sugary kinds. Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candy is a good choice in this category.
Here is a list that may help you in your choices of treats:
Courtesy of Business Insider, Copyright © 2017 Business Insider Inc. All rights reserved.
What do dentists give out on Halloween?
Sixty percent of dentists give out candy at Halloween, according to Delta Dental’s 2011 Tricky Treats survey of over 250 dentists. Nearly one out of four dentists do not hand out anything on Halloween, while 5% hand out toothbrushes.
Of those who hand out candy, 79% choose chocolate, while just 13% hand out varieties like hard candy or lollipops. And there’s a good reason for their choice of treats.
Time is of the essence when it comes to teeth and sugar, so not all candy is equally scary. Chewy treats and hard candy are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down. Sweets like chocolate that quickly dissolve in the mouth and can be eaten easily lessen the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth.
Questions? Contact us and we can help you make the right choices!