As Halloween quickly approaches, your little ones are probably preparing their costumes, decorating with orange and black, and highly anticipating the evening to go “trick or treat-ing.”
The great news about Halloween is that kids (and parents) get candy!
The not-so-great news about Halloween is that kids get candy (and cavities), right? While that is the message that most parents hear around this time of year, it’s actually not completely true. We’re about to clue you in to the things you haven’t heard about kids teeth and Halloween.
1. What’s Actually Causing Cavities?
While a lot of people would love to pin candy as the culprit for tooth decay, the villain is actually bacteria (plot twist!). This scheming bacterium has established itself right in your mouth. This becomes a problem when you eat. The bacterium is fed by starches, sugars and other carbohydrates, causing it to produce acid. Anyone who has taken a high-school level biology class will know that acid lowers PH – especially in the mouth. The more acidic your mouth is, the faster your teeth sensitize – and eventually decay.
The bottom line is this: candy alone is not the sole cause of cavities. Really, any type of bread or starch can be just as harmful as the sweets gathered on Halloween.
It’s also important to be careful about letting kids eat snacks or candy continually throughout the day. If that happens, particles linger on the teeth and in the mouth, feeding that bacterium to no end. A better method is to stick with 3 set meals a day, without constant munching, and with active brushing at the beginning and end of the day.
2. There Are Foods Worse Than Candy
Photo by CarrieLu / CC-BY-NC-ND
“Say, what?” That’s right. As sugary and harmful as candy can be, there are some foods that play the trump card when it comes to tooth decay. It’s every kid’s dream, right? Candy isn’t actually as bad as they say? Let’s take a look:
- Soda/Energy Drinks. Ah, those fizzy and refreshing cans of destruction. While most kids love any kind of soda, they often don’t realize what they’re doing to their teeth! Most sodas these days are known to have an average of 10 teaspoons of sugar in them. Combined with the acidic content from the carbonation, a can of soda is fatal to a tooth’s well-being.
- Raisins. Although raisins are generally looked upon as a healthy snack, they can be extremely sticky. For that reason, it’s a good idea to limit the amount you eat and brush your teeth after – or chew sugarless gum.
- Potato Chips/Pretzels. These chips are dangerous for two reasons: One, they are carbohydrates, and two – especially potato chips – they are acidic. Both are great reasons to limit the amount of times you eat foods like this.
- Cookies/Crackers. Starches like these are, unfortunately, used as fuel for tooth decay. A good rule of thumb after eating them is to brush your teeth and floss.
While these things are better than candy, there are still some candies that you will want to steer clear of. Anything particularly sticky, sour or hard should be a red flag. Furthermore, chocolate can be a much better option for your teeth because it doesn’t tend to stick as badly. (Just remember moderation – less cavities is not equal to less calories.)
3. Alternative “Treats” to Give Out
A great way to stay away from the dental dangers of Halloween, yet still make it fun, is to give away toys and other small items. Take a look at some of our suggestions, below!
4. How to Prevent Cavities without Banning Candy
If you’ve seen the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you’ve seen a prime (yet fictional) example of what Halloween looks like when a child isn’t allowed to have candy: ultimately, very sad. While we do understand and sympathize with the fact that no candy at all prevents cavities, we also totally get that Halloween is fun because of candy!
- Brush your teeth 2-3 times a day!
- Use mouthwash to rinse your mouth.
- Regularly visit your dentist.
- Drink water regularly.
- Avoid constant munching.
- Eat the right kind of foods.
- Think about fluoride treatment.
We hope that your kids have a great time this Halloween! Keep in mind our advice to help their smiles stay strong, but also letting them have a blast at the same time.
Do you have any tips for parents this Halloween? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section, below.