Yes, Halloween candy is really bad for kid’s teeth! All of the Top 10 lists of “Foods that Damage Your Teeth”, rank “candy” as #1.
Every year, Americans spend an approximate amount of $9 Billion, just on candy. Although every season in the USA has some favorite candy or particular sweet treat to invest in, Halloween is known as the candy holiday. It is the time of the year where kids feel entitled to receive candy and will eat as much as they can get away with. This causes headaches for parents across the country, who are trying to limit their child’s sugar intake but are caught between teaching healthy choices and not wanting to ruin their child’s Halloween experience.
Here at Frisco Kid’s Dentistry, know the challenges of teaching good dental hygiene to your children. We also love to see your children have a great time on Halloween as every child should, and we hosted a Boo Bash Carnival for just that reason. Now, we want to be proactive and BUY YOUR CANDY BACK!
“COWBOY” Cactus Jack Wants To Buy Your Candy Back!
Halloween Candy Buyback – Support Our Troops, All donated candy will be shipped to our troops!
50 cents per pound of unopened candy
$1.00 per pound if you bring In a FRISCO Fastpac
Limited to 5 pounds of candy per child
FRISCO FASTPACS – Donation Items: 15 oz Canned Fruit, 15 oz Canned Vegetables, Canned Meats, 15 oz Canned Pasta/Sauce (ravioli, spaghetti, lasagna), Individual Pasta Meals, Individual Oatmeal Packets, Granola Bars *NO NUTS
Dr. Rubin and his staff are committed to helping parents teach their children the best way to take care of their teeth, and we have some tips on how to specifically encourage good habits during this sweet season.
Preparation for Halloween Candy
Although Halloween is the time of year where you as parents are markedly more attentive to the level of sugar intake your child has, it must be stated that this time of year is not the time to start being concerned for your child’s dental hygiene.
Like any other habit, the habit of good dental health takes time to learn and maintain, especially for children. Good oral health an important habit to maintain year round, not just at Halloween, though this may be the time of year you decide to train your kids in the good habits they need to take care of their teeth.
These are important things for you as parents to know and to teach your children as you train them in dental hygiene:
- Brushing Regularly: It is recommended that you brush twice daily; once in the morning and once before bed. However, brushing after each meal is suggested, to ensure that no food gets left behind that could potentially damage the teeth if left too long. If your child has braces, it is necessary to brush after any snack or meal to remove food that could attract bacteria as it sits on the teeth or is caught in braces. At Halloween, (or in fact any event) once your child has had their portion of candy, no matter what the time of day, make sure they brush their teeth immediately following
- Flossing Regularly: From an early age, teach your child how to floss thoroughly before brushing. This removes food caught in the teeth, excess plaque and prevents gum disease. To make it easier for your child to floss, try using the ready-made floss sticks. This will make it easier to reach the hard places and make the whole process faster.
- Education: Some dentists use dissolving tablets to assess the level of bacterial build up on patients teeth. The tablets temporarily stain the plaque and show where the teeth need to be more thoroughly brushed. It can be a fun experiment to do with your children to help educate them on just how thorough their brushing and flossing needs to be. You can buy these tablets over the counter at any drug store.
- Make Brushing time fun: Children are far more likely to want to brush their teeth if there is a fun element to the process. How can it be made more fun? Let them pick out their own toothbrush, one that is shaped like their favorite character or is in a fun color. There are also so many varieties of toothpaste for children. If they get to choose the flavor of toothpaste and they like it, they will be much more eager to brush their teeth. Toothbrushes should be changed out every few months, so if you want to start teaching them about oral hygiene right before Halloween, now would be a great time to take them to pick out their new toothbrush. Dr. Rubin also suggests using motivational charts to help establish a routine for your child.
- Make sure to supervise until necessary: At the age of six, a child is usually ready and able to brush their own teeth, of course under supervision. As you continue to teach your child the importance of oral health, you will want to maintain supervision for several years, until you are sure they know how to brush their teeth well and thoroughly.
- Ensure Toothpaste contains Fluoride: If you do let your child pick out their own toothpaste, be sure to check if it contains fluoride or not. Fluoride helps strengthen the tooth enamel, preventing tooth decay and long-term damage to teeth as you brush.
- Teaching these rules to your children as you train them in good dental hygiene will ensure that they understand the importance of taking care of their teeth, and be sure to explain the consequences of what will happen if they don’t.
Effects of Halloween Candy on My Child’s Teeth
You now know what are good habits for your children to learn. If you are struggling to know how to handle the sugar overload of Halloween, perhaps choosing this time of year to really explain the above information to your child can be a way to combat too much candy and dental damage. Teaching your child the importance of moderation, consequences and good choices can really help them enjoy their trick or treating experience, without them feeling like you’re ruining all their fun.
Set up rules and standards beforehand, so that when they return with a bucket full of candy, they won’t be heartbroken when you explain to them that they cannot eat all of their candy in one night.
Explain the damaging effects of candy, while teaching them smart ways to take care of their teeth, and the process may be a lot more bearable. Of course , this is only relevant if your child/children is/are of an age that they can comprehend actions and consequences and have some level of responsibility to take care of themselves. If they are still young, you may want to simplify the information and set specific rules that they must abide by even if they don’t really understand why yet.
Cavities and Tooth Decay from Halloween Candy
Cavities and tooth decay are both caused by a prolonged exposure of the teeth to sugar. When you or your children eat something like candy that is made up almost entirely of sugar, and does not thoroughly brush their teeth immediately afterward, bacteria from inside the mouth will build up and feed off this sugar. The sugar is then turned into acid, which damages the tooth enamel and causes tooth decay or cavities.
The longer the food or sugar sits on the teeth, the more damage it can do, and if your child is sitting eating candy for a prolonged period of time, the damage can be huge.
It is important to note that different types of candies have different effects, and some have the potential to cause more damage than others. Get an understanding of the difference between candies and you can avoid tooth damage.
Candy Friends and Candy Foes
These types of snacks or candies are the ones that should really be avoided if possible:
- Sticky Candy: such as gummies, taffy and caramels. These are real culprits in the candy world, as they stick to teeth and leave small amounts of residue that are hard to remove without a thorough brushing. When they stick in the crevices between teeth on teeth directly, it makes it difficult for saliva to wash away and those pieces that are stuck have the potential to cause cavities
- Sour Candies: These types of candy are highly acidic and can cause damage to tooth enamel very quickly. However, the great benefit of saliva is that it can neutralize the acid balance in the mouth. Dentists recommend that you wait at least thirty minutes before brushing the teeth after acidic foods since the brushing could spread acid into more places and cause further damage
- Sugary Snacks: Any foods like cookies, cake, candy corn and similar contain a large amount of sugar and cause tooth decay very quickly
Although a dentist will never recommend a child eats copious amounts of candy, and no candy can fully be considered as a ‘friend’, here are some good choices you can your child can make when it comes to Halloween snacking:
- Sugar Free Lollipops and Hard Candy: Besides the fact that they are sugar free, these types of candies actually help in the production of saliva, preventing the issue of dry-mouth. Dry mouth makes it easier for plaque to build up and speeds up the process of cavities
- Sugar Free Gum: Again, this can help in the production of saliva, which also helps neutralize the acidity in the mouth and prevents cavities or tooth decay. In addition, gum can help remove any food particles stuck in the mouth
- Dark Chocolate: This contains antioxidants and promotes good heart health. It also contains less sugar than white or milk chocolate, evident by its slightly bitter taste
Tips for Halloween
If you’re following the above hygiene rules and maintaining healthy oral care year round, Halloween should not be too challenging. However, as much as you would like to limit your children’s sugar intake to the above ‘healthier choices’, it is difficult to control what your child picks up as they go trick-or-treating. Here are some ways you can maintain moderation but still have your child enjoy their winnings:
- Don’t deny your child the opportunity to go out with their friends and don’t try to smother their Halloween experience. Chances are that, if you forbid candy or limit their exposure within the home, they will feast on it when it becomes available
- Instead, teach your child moderation. When they return with a bucket full of candy, have them pick out a finite number of their favorites and put the others away where they don’t have easy access to it. Over the next few days, let them eat their pieces of candy that they picked out, and if you decide to keep the rest of the candy (instead of throwing it out or giving it away), keep it hidden and moderate when you give candy to your child
- Encourage your child to follow a piece of candy with a glass of water and a thorough teeth-brushing
- Feed your child a full meal before they go out on Halloween; this way they will be less tempted to fill up on sugary sweets as they go round to houses
Year-Round Dental Hygiene
To maintain the healthy habits and keep up the good standards, Frisco Kid’s Dentistry encourages you to bring your children in for regular check-ups, including having your child’s teeth professionally cleaned to reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay. If you need advice on dental hygiene, or want to arrange a cleaning appointment, contact Frisco Kid’s Dentistry by Online Appointment Request or call 214 618 5200 and we will be happy to help.