Halloween is such a familiar part of North American culture, it’s easy to overlook the health impacts of indulging in this annual celebration. Did you know that tooth decay can take hold in as little as 20 minutes?
Here are some tips to avoid scary tooth decay this Halloween season:
1. Hold it at home. Let your kids enjoy the fun and festivities of Halloween—like dressing up and decorating—by hosting a party at home. This helps ensure their personal safety throughout the night, as well as their dental health for the weeks to come. Hand out grab bags for guests that include only a few pieces of candy along with other non-food treats (see tip # 3).
2. Go small or go home. Trick-or-treating doesn’t have to be an endurance sport: Decide in advance how much time you will spend on the street. By limiting the time, you limit the amount of candy collected. Use a small bag or container to collect candy.
3.Find the right pairing. Candy eaten with a meal (for instance, as dessert), is less likely to cause cavities than candy eaten between meals as a snack.
4. Keep it out of sight. Store candy out of sight: If children don’t see it, they will be less likely to ask for it.
5. Set an expiration date. Impose a reasonable time limit to keep the candy in the house for your children to eat what they can, and then get rid of the balance. Or, when your child has had enough candy, put the remainder in the freezer and use it to stuff a Piñata for your next party.
6. Think outside the wrapper. Hand out treats that are more “tooth friendly,” or at least less damaging, such as microwave popcorn, pudding cups, crackers, and chips or pretzels. Also consider handing out non-food items, like pencils, stickers, erasers, or tooth brushes!
7. Just say “no” to these treats: Jujubes, jellybeans, raisins, dried fruit snacks, licorice and Halloween kisses. These offenders and other sticky sweets get stuck in the teeth where they begin their damage undetected. Soft drinks should also be limited because they are acidic and can break down tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.
8. Brush up! The best protection for your children’s teeth this Halloween is to brush after eating candy. Plaque attacks can last up to 20 minutes, causing cavities. If you aren’t able to brush after sweet treats, drink lots of water to help wash away the sugars. Supervise your child’s tooth brushing and aim for “2 for 2” (brushing two times a day for two minutes each time).