Dental Health Info Article

Dental Health Tips for Halloween:

Annually, October 31 fuels fantasies via costumes and cavities via candy thanks to Halloween celebrations. Each year, millions of children take to the streets in costume and go door-to-door begging for their favorite confectionery delights. While options like chocolate, gummy candies and lollipops are certainly tasty, they can also wreak havoc on dental health. Fortunately parents and caregivers can implement some tips to minimize the odds of their charges developing dental problems while still allowing plenty of wiggle room for Halloween fun!

Candy Facts

Each year millions of children struggle with the big decision of what to dress up as on Halloween and despite if they end up dressing like a cartoon character a pirate or opt to wear fake teeth for Halloween, the costume runs a close second to the potential of collecting enough candy to delight a small army. Within the candy industry, Halloween marks the peak season with an estimated $2 billion in sales, totaling approximately 25 percent of the annual candy business. Some of those treats contribute to the fact that the average American consumes 24.3 pounds, of the sweet stuff each year (Current Industrial Reports, Confectionery: 2009).

Although candy is dandy, the Government's new nutritional plate guidelines stresses the importance of eating a well-balanced diet versus the sweet stuff to prevent health problems. Candy is filled with sugars and when that food is consumed trace amounts will linger on teeth. That sucrose provides a feast for oral bacteria that can band together form a community of dental plaque. As the dental plaque and the organism components chow down on the sugars, they will produce tooth eroding acid as a byproduct and can increase the odds of a trick-or-treater developing tooth decay and dental cavities.

It is important to note that studies have shown that it is not necessarily the type of sugar consumed that causes those dental problems, but the frequency surrounding how the confectionery delights are ingested. Since depriving a child of Halloween treats is not a viable option, caregivers instead should allow their kids to eat a couple of pieces of candy at one given time and follow up that process by making sure their child drinks a clean, fresh glass of water. The purifying liquid will wash away residual sugars and minimize the risk of tooth erosion until it is officially time to brush teeth and go to bed.

Dental Friendly Halloween Treats

Annually, countless homes participate in the trick-or-treat ritual. While some individuals may choose to hand out raisins and other healthy treats in order to minimize the risk to dental health, those types of handouts may unfortunately aggravate the receiver to the point of them playing a "trick" in response. Thankfully there are plenty of tasty and fun options that can help keep the peace including:

  • Sesame/honey candy
  • Chocolate-covered fruit, peanuts, almonds or pretzels
  • Mini dark-chocolate bars
  • Individually wrapped hard candies
  • Organic gummy candy
  • Natural licorice
  • Fruit leather
  • Sugar free chewing gum
  • Wax vampire teeth or smiles
  • Halloween stickers, pencils, toys, noisemakers, temp tattoos, bubbles and other types of party favors.

Homes on the giveaway circuit who care about the dental health of their neighbors should avoid giving out sour or sticky candy of any kind as they are considered some of the worse vices for dental health. Sour candy is extremely high in tooth eroding citric acid and sticky candies can linger about on teeth providing sugar to oral bacteria until the confectionery is removed via brushing and flossing.

Oral Care Tips for Halloween

Once on a sugar binge, a majority of children would happily consume all their candy until the bellies ache and their teeth fall out. That is why parents are wise to intervene and be the voice of reason. 1-800-DENTIST offers the following oral dental care tips to ensure that kids can indeed have their cake, cookies and candies and eat it too:

  • Restrict Candy Consumption: The frequency at which candy and sugars are consumed will increase the chances of tooth decay and dental problems. Parents should prevent their children from snacking on the treats all day and instead provide a few pieces of candy after meals.
  • Limit Tooth Brushing: While many parent may think that the best way to lower the odds of dental cavities is by having their child brush right after eating candy, the process can actually cause tooth erosion. After eating, tooth enamel will soften and can be brushed off. Parents should instead provide their child with a glass of water and let the enamel harden for at least 30 minutes prior to brushing and flossing.
  • Make Water The Beverage of Choice: Regardless of it is Halloween or Groundhog's day, water is the best drink for all. Nationwide, 72 percent of all tap water is treated with the cavity fighting ingredient of fluoride. Even if water is not treated, the liquid will naturally wash away the sugar particles that may stick around and help freshen mouths.
  • Skip Sticky Treats and Sour Candy!
  • Practice Oral Hygiene: After tooth enamel has hardened (around 30 minutes after eating) children must practice exceptional dental hygiene of brushing and flossing to remove dental plaque.
  • Professional Dental Care: No matter what time of year seeking the advice of a dentist is considered part of the dental hygiene process. A dentist will be able to deliver cleanings to remove dental plaque, provide an exam to determine if there is any dental damage and deliver the preventative dental treatments to combat any issues. Parents looking to find a dentist to provide their children with exceptional dental care can call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of a local provider.