Have you seen them? The stacks of Halloween candy in the stores? Have you thought about what all that candy can do to your children’s teeth and your teeth? In today’s economy, no one wants to spend extra money visiting the dentist because of cavities!
Don’t despair. You CAN have your candy and eat it too. It is possible to minimize the effect of all that sugar by making a few good choices that will help avoid unnecessary trips to the dentist.
Before it becomes a problem, establish some Halloween candy-eating guidelines. For instance, tell your own trick-or-treaters that they can pick out 25 pieces (or less) of the candy they most want. Then discuss giving away or donating the rest of the candy—the sticky, gooey pieces that eat away at teeth.
What’s the best candy choice? Actually, plain chocolate bars or chocolate kisses do the least damage. All dentists agree that sticky, gooey candy, and candy like lollipops and jawbreakers, cause the most damage because they stay in the mouth for a long time compared to other candy treats. Obviously try to steer your trick-or-treaters away from the cavity creators.
Besides picking the candy that will cause the least amount of damage to your teeth, you should be aware of the best time to eat it. Once you begin eating anything, acid production is activated in your mouth. Since the acid that eats your teeth is already present from eating, tell your family they can only eat candy immediately after a meal.
Tell your children, they can have one piece of Halloween candy for dessert. Keep in mind that eating candy between meals is not a good idea because of the extra acid it generates in the mouth.
Because of that acid, it is especially important to brush your teeth after you have eaten. If this is not possible or practical, then drink some liquids, like water or milk, to wash away the sugars and starches so they don’t remain on the teeth for a long time, causing cavities.
Last of all, remember, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Keep the candy stash out of sight so no one will be tempted by it. The Academy of General Dentistry reports that our nation consumes billions of pounds of candy each year and Halloween trick-or-treating contributes to a large percentage of that consumption.
If we establish some Halloween candy-eating guidelines, teach our children to use moderation, make good choices, and practice good dental hygiene, then it really should be a Happy Halloween!
Dr. Ron Rotem, DDS
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