The Halloween ritual of kids trick-or-treating for candy is as American as mom and apple pie but it can also be a recipe for cavities.
The pediatric dentists from Dental Associates have advice on how to keep candy consumption in check and protect young ones’ teeth.
“Halloween is a fun activity for kids so we don’t want to take that away but there are ways parents can help reduce the negative impact that candy has on a child’s teeth,” says Dr. Margie Castillo, a pediatric dentist at Dental Associates’ Franklin clinic on S. 27th St.
• Brush before eating candy – Parents and children should know that tooth decay and cavities occur when sugar reacts to bacteria and plaque in the mouth. Brushing before candy consumption reduces the amount of bacteria and plaque on teeth.
• Use moderation – Steer children to snack or fun-sized candies instead of the full or king-sized versions. The smaller portions have just as much flavor but a lot less sugar and calories.
• Limit candy consumption – Instead of allowing your child to eat their Halloween candy throughout the day, let them have a piece or two after lunch or dinner. Eating candy continuously coats the teeth in sugar for long stretches of time.
• Offer alternate treats – Frozen fruit bars with chunks of real fruit, frozen grapes, crunchy granola bars (not the chewy kind), nuts, sunflower seeds and light popcorn can be substituted for traditional candy.
• Chew sugar-free gum (preferably with Xylitol) – The saliva produced by chewing gum can wash away acids and bacteria.
• Eat a piece of cheese – Research shows cheese is one of the healthiest snacks for children’s teeth. Cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella and Monterey jack all stimulate the body’s salivary glands to clear the mouth of debris and protect teeth from acids that weaken them.
• Drink water – Having a drink of water after eating candy helps rinse away sugar that would otherwise cling to teeth.
• Avoid chewy or sticky candy – Gummy candies and taffy can get stuck on and in between teeth and the longer those sticky substances adhere to the teeth, the worse it is.
• Steer clear of sour candy – The acid in sour and tart candies can break down tooth enamel quickly. Other acidic foods that are troublesome for teeth include regular and diet soda, energy drinks, orange juice and fruit juices.
• Avoid candies that last – Hard candy and lollipops stay in the mouth for an extended amount of time, bathing teeth in sugar.
Dr. Castillo also reminds parents that good dental hygiene is always important,
especially during high sugar consumption times like Halloween. “Children should brush their teeth in the morning and at night for a minimum of two minutes. They should floss daily and see their dentist regularly. Those basic instructions never change – no matter what time of year it is.”
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Founded in 1973, Dental Associates is Wisconsin’s largest family-owned dental group practice with 10 offices throughout the state and nearly 800 staff members, including 100 doctors. Dental Associates provides complete family dental services, both general and specialty dentistry, under one roof – from pediatric dentistry to specialized dental services for older adults – with a focus on excellent care that is affordable, accessible and personalized. Dental Associates is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). Through the company's CarePlus Dental Plans, Dental Associates provides affordable and high-quality dental health care to all Wisconsin residents. For more information regarding Dental Associates, visit www.dentalassociates.com.
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