Halloween is just around the corner and that means that Halloween candy is about to be very available to your children. While you do want to make sure that your kid’s teeth and gums are healthy, keeping them from participating in one of the most fun, kid-friendly holidays of the year can be kind of harsh.
So what are you, as a parent, supposed to do? On the one hand, you want to make sure that your child has a fun Halloween with a cute costume and trick-or-treating without ruining their teeth. On the other hand, you want to make sure that your child doesn’t feel deprived – this can form unhealthy habits, making them want more candy and be more likely to sneak or hide candy.
Luckily, you can toe the line between letting your kids enjoy the holiday and making sure that they aren’t overindulging in Halloween treats. Emphasizing certain candies and treats while limiting others can significantly help your little one’s teeth from being at risk during the Halloween holiday.
Candies, gummy worms, salt-water taffy, and yes, even dried fruit can be damaging to teeth because of how sticky they are. Small particles of these chewy treats will get stuck in hard-to-reach-places in your child’s mouth, making it harder for them to be cleaned away by a toothbrush or saliva.
Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, and other sour candies have high levels of acid, which is really bad for teeth. Acid from sour candies will promote erosion of protective tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum or eating crunchy foods to stimulate saliva production will help counteract the acid by lowering the pH balance in your child’s mouth. Be careful not to brush your child’s teeth for 30 minutes after eating sour candy, though! Brushing soon after your child eats sour candy can actually spread the acid around your child’s mouth, exposing more of their teeth and gums to the acid.
Halloween parties can be a minefield with regards to sugary treats – cake, cookies, and candy corn by the handful! Limiting the number of cookies, brownies, and other sweets can dramatically help your child’s teeth remain healthy.
While still not the best thing for your child’s teeth, hard candies and sugar-free lollipops are better than nothing. They provide less sugar and less acid than other types of candy and actually can promote saliva production. Saliva helps to neutralize the acid, dissolve food particles, and lower the pH balance of the mouth.
As gum can easily get caught in your child’s hair or stuck to clothes, we’ll leave it up to you whether you want to let your child chew gum. That being said, sugar-free gum can help keep your child’s mouth healthy and free from decay. There’s no sugar to promote acid production, the chewing motion helps dislodge food particles that could be stuck between teeth, and it promotes saliva production.
It’s important to remember that snacking shouldn’t go overboard just because it’s Halloween, but snack-sized bags of pretzels, crackers, and trail mix can make an excellent compromise between vegetables and candy. This is especially so if you get the Halloween-themed packages! These kinds of snacks are not sticky, aren’t high in citric acid, and aren’t high in sugar either, making them much easier on little teeth.
A “buy-back” program can help keep your child excited about Halloween without the focus being on the candy. A “buy-back” program is just as it sounds, your child will trade in some or all of their candy for something else. You can do this a couple of ways: you could offer a penny per piece of candy, so even if your child comes home with a candy bag bigger than they are, the overall cost for you could be no more than $10-$20. You could also offer small toys as a different incentive, where they get a few toys from the dollar store based on the weight of the candy they turned in.
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