Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Scary Halloween Treats

halloween candy

1. Offer healthy alternatives to candy.

Eating sweets causes damaging acids to form in the mouth. These acids continue to affect the teeth for at least 20 minutes before they are neutralized. Sugar-free gum containing the artificial sweetener xylitol is effective in combating the bacteria in plaque and fighting the acid that eats away at enamel. The chewing motion also stimulates the flow of saliva, which helps cleanse the teeth. That makes sugar-free gum a smart choice to drop into Halloween bags.

2. Limit the amount of time that sugar is in contact with your child’s teeth.

When buying candy for Halloween, look for treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars. When you get home from trick-or-treating, discard hard or sticky candies like sugared fruit snacks, caramels or lollipops, as they increase the period of time in which teeth are exposed to sugar. Encourage your child to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting followed by a glass of water and thorough tooth brushing. It is not a good idea to allow your child to graze on candy as this will increase the amount of time sugar comes in contact with teeth.

3. Teach your child to eat all foods in moderation.

Although sweets are blamed for much tooth decay, all foods — even healthy alternatives to candy, such as fruit and nuts — can promote tooth decay if eaten in excess. Children (like adults) should eat all foods in moderation. Read nutrition labels to avoid foods and drinks loaded with sugar, fructose and other sweeteners.

4. Set up a candy bank.

Allow your child to make daily withdrawals from the bank and monitor the progress. This way, you can control how much candy your child consumes.

5. Take time during Halloween to brush up on your child’s oral health habits.

What better time than Halloween to treat your kids to a little reminder about the importance of healthy teeth and gums? Just a quick reminder of the importance of brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist is all that's needed to help your child understand the importance of oral health. Treat your child to a special, new toothbrush and some flavored floss to reinforce the habit of proper dental care.

6. Use fluoride to fight cavities.

The use of fluoride has been demonstrated to dramatically reduce the damage caused by tooth decay. The most common ways to use fluoride for cavity prevention are by using fluoridated toothpaste and other products and by drinking fluoridated water.

Children should brush at least twice a day for two minutes with a small (pea-sized) amount of fluoridated toothpaste and rinse with a fluoridated mouth rinse. Fluoride treatments, applied directly onto teeth, are also available in any dentist's office. Fluoridated water generally is delivered through a community's water supply. If your area does not have fluoridated water, consider buying fluoridated bottled water or asking your dentist for fluoride supplements for your children.

Information courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry
Last updated: October 2011

The oral health information on this web site is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.

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