For children and adults alike, Halloween means great fun, creative costumes, pumpkin carving, spooky decorations -- and lots and lots of candy. In fact, 25% of the U.S.’s entire annual candy sales are made around Halloween. Don’t let this holiday be a scary time for your teeth; follow these tips to keep your fangs healthy, happy and cavity-free!
Tip #1: Choose healthier candies
Avoid or cut down on sour, sticky, chewy and hard candies.
Sour candies are high in acidity, which weakens and erodes tooth enamel.
Sticky and chewy candies leave sugars directly on the teeth, and often get stuck in the grooves and crevices of our molars, resulting in a prolonged sugar + acid attack on teeth.
Hard candies pose a plethora of hazards: they’re a choking hazard for young kids, can chip or crack teeth, and significantly increase the risk of tooth decay. Because they tend to stay in the mouth longer, hard candies produce a mix of saliva and sugar that coats the entire mouth and all teeth in a prolonged sugar bath.
Healthier treats include snacks like cereal bars, pretzels, granola bars. What’s your best bet for Halloween candy? Chocolate! Regular chocolate - without caramel, nougat, etc. - is a far better choice than sour/sticky/chewy/hard candies. Dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa content) is a particularly good choice because it contains antioxidants and polyphenols that help limit oral bacteria, fight cavities and prevent gum disease.
Tip #2: Practice moderation!
Sort through your (or your child’s) candy and set aside a limited number of pieces of candy - perhaps 10-20, depending on age. Get rid of the rest - donate to a food bank or drop them off at a local candy buyback program. Setting up a candy bank for children is also a great way to limit candy consumption: let your kid make 1-2 “withdrawals” from the candy bank each day.
Tip #3: Eat candy during or right after mealtimes
The increase in saliva production while chewing helps cancel out the acids produced by oral bacteria, and also helps wash away sugar from your teeth.
Tip #4: Drink plenty of water
Swishing your mouth with water helps rinse away sugar from your teeth. Drinking fluoridated water helps remineralize and strengthen teeth, protecting them from cavities.
Tip #5: Keep up with good brushing and flossing habits
This is the simplest, most effective, and most important way to keep your fangs strong and healthy this Halloween. Brush for 2 minutes twice daily with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste, and floss once daily to make sure no sugars or food particles stick around to haunt you!