Halloween marks the start of the holidays in which candies and goodies are served frequently. This year, prepare yourself with ways to get through the holidays and keep your kid’s teeth healthy!
From a pediatric-dentist’s perspective, candy is sugar and sugar is detrimental to the teeth no matter how yummy it is.
Let’s face it: the more we deny kids (and adults) something, the more they want it. As simple as it is to say eliminate candy all together, it may be very difficult to enforce and monitor. After all, children could have access to candy at friend’s house or at school. But, there are a few things you can do to make the most of this sweet season.
Start with the basics.
- Teach your child to eat all food in moderation. Establishing a standard of eating in moderation across all foods is important. Even more healthy alternatives still can still promote tooth decay especially in excess.
- Create a Candy Plan. By establishing a plan upfront with your child, you can manage their expectations when it comes to gathering too much candy. Set out a number of houses they can trick-or-treat at. Use a smaller bag to collect the candy, and once it’s full, they’re done collecting candy.
- Trade In. Offer them a trade-in option for a non-sugar reward. Have them bring in their candy to our offices for our Cash for Candy program. For every pound of candy your child trades in, we give them a dollar. The candy is then shipped to troops overseas for a nice treat. This helps teach kids about responsibility and charitable giving!
- Be Selective. Choose the lesser of two evils when it comes to the treats you allow. Swap out hard candies like lollipops and caramels for chocolates. Hard candies and caramels stay in the mouth longer and dissolve slower, whereas chocolates are swallowed more quickly. Stay away from sticky candies and limit sour candies.
- Go Trick-or-Treating on a full stomach. Just as they say don’t go shopping on an empty stomach, you can apply the same strategy when trick-or-treating. By staying full, you reduce the urge to fill up on sweets.
- Do The Daily 4. Kids should brush, floss, and rinse after consuming candy.
Starting the conversation about oral health with your kids is very important. This season is a great time to start the discussion if you haven’t already. Keep in mind that oral hygiene is a year-round concern, and the Daily 4 can always be applied. Tooth decay isn’t the only common dental issue for kids, but it’s important to stay aware of it during heavy sweet-consumption times such as Halloween and the coming holidays.