Let’s be honest, no dentist (me included) is going to tell you that candy and the sweet treats frequently associated with Halloween are good for you. Excessive and prolonged exposure to sugar can lead to decay, cavities and other preventable dental issues. Bacteria that is naturally occurring in the mouth feeds off of sugar, turning it into acid that wears away at enamel and can cause decay. Aside from dental decay, excessive indulgence in sugar can have some pretty serious side effects on your overall health, too. Does this mean I don’t enjoy an occasional treat and think you and your family should abstain as well? HECK NO! Candy and sweets are one of my weaknesses, especially as Nancy and I are stocking up for one of our favorite nights of the year, Trick-or-Treat! Candy is almost unavoidable this time of the year and instead of sharing alternative treats (which are fantastic options and should not be disregarded), I wanted to share how you and your children can enjoy candy responsibly:
- Spend time with your child looking through their candy; be excited as you talk about favorites (make sure you receive your fair share for supervising the trick-or-treat festivities). Work with your children to decide what is a reasonable amount of candy to eat and rather than discussing “candy is bad”, focus conversations on how sweets can lead to cavities and that what they eat relates to overall and oral health.
- Regard the occasion as it is – a treat! Limiting your daily consumption of sugar makes it more enjoyable when you allow yourself to indulge and makes it easier to refrain from EATING ALL THE CANDY!!
- Set a Treat Time – Scheduling “treat time” not only allows you to savor the treat and makes you less inclined to thinking about eating it all day, but also limits dental exposure to sugar, as well.
- Eat a good meal prior to Trick-or-Treating or enjoying your candy. Feeling satiated prior to treating yourself will reduce the temptation to fill up on candy.
- Steer away from or limit consumption of caramel and gummy candies (which can stick to teeth making the difficult to remove – hello, caramel apple suckers?!) and sour candies (which can contain acid) all of which can weakening our defense against dental erosion and cavities.
- Keep tooth-brushing fun! Use Halloween as a time of year to reeducate your children (and yourself) on positive oral hygiene habits – allow your children to pick out a new toothbrush, toothpaste or a different type of mouthwash. This may seem silly, but aren’t you more apt to use something when it is new and a novelty?
- Help your children enjoy the challenge of maintaining excellent overall oral health with disclosing tablets. Disclosing tablets are given after brushing and will expose any remaining plaque on teeth. They can be a fun (and even spooky) way to help improve your child’s brushing skills.
As with all good things, moderation is key. Reinforcing these concepts, especially at a time when you or your child may have more exposure to sugar may help develop positive habits.
Happy Halloween and may you receive more treats than tricks! Keep that smile bright and contact us for an after Halloween checkup!
*While statements regarding sugar being a major cause of decay are all factual, all opinions regarding enjoying treats are solely of those of Dr. Mike’s and, in no way, represent the dental community as whole.