Here at Newman Springs Dental Care, we get pretty excited about the holidays, so we’re definitely looking forward to Halloween. So are many of our patients! We love to talk to them about their costumes, and it’s not uncommon for us to get a kid or two in the office who’s sporting theirs for a school event or party. In fact, we love to dress up on Halloween day too, maybe a little too much! As much as we get into the spirit, we can’t help but pass along a few tips for healthy Halloween treats so you can feel a little more confident about your kiddos’ oral health when they bring pounds of candy back home.
If you haven’t bought your candy for trick-or-treaters yet, either, consider our advice below. For more tips, or to schedule appointments for you and your kids after Halloween, call (732) 352-3903 today.
Reject These Treats – They’re Tricks!
Some candy just isn’t great for teeth. It could be because it contributes to cavities more than other treats, because it can loosen fillings and crowns, and because it can crack or even break teeth. When parents ask us about candy or just food to avoid, we usually bring up these:
- Hard candy like jawbreakers, suckers, and Jolly Ranchers
- Sticky candy like gum and gummies
- Sour candy like sour worms
- Chewy candy like caramels and Starburst
These culprits have led to a surprising number of patients who’ve showed up at our office with a dental emergency. Although we’re confident we can help you fast in such a situation, why take the risk? There are so many other options, and we’ll bet your kids will have plenty of candy left if these are removed from their spread.
One of the reasons sticky, acidic candies are so bad for teeth is just that – they’re sticky and acidic! Sticky sugar can stay on teeth even after brushing (which most kids just aren’t great at or consistent at). Bacteria thrives on it and produces acid. Throw acid from your candy in the mix, and you’ve got the perfect environment for cavities to form. That’s especially true for baby teeth that aren’t as strong as adult teeth.
Restrict These Treats
Not all treats are terrible for your teeth. There are many that we’ve bought for trick-or-treaters at our homes. Some are everyday snacks that you might even pack for your kids at school. Just be careful not to indulge too much – some still contain sugar and carbs that can get stuck between teeth and in the pits of back teeth.
- Snack-size pretzels, crackers, and multigrain chips
- Goldfish and similar cheese crackers
- Animal crackers
- Peanut butter crackers (remember allergies for any nut products, of course)
- Snack-size fat-free popcorn
- 100% juice boxes or pouches
- 100% fruit leather
- Raisins and other snack-sized dried fruit
- Chocolate-coated raisins and nuts
- Yogurt-coated raisins and nuts
- Peanut butter cups
- Milk chocolate bars
Relish in These Treats
Yes, there actually are healthy Halloween treats that your kids and trick-or-treaters won’t ditch as soon as they get home. Keep these in mind:
- Small apples
- Mandarins and tangerines
- Bananas (you might even melt some chocolate bars and dip banana slices in them!)
- Individual peanut butters
- Dark chocolate bars
- Sugarless gum – bonus if it’s with xylitol, a cavity-fighting sweetener
- Nuts (for older kids without allergies)
You can even opt to go candy-free this Halloween if you’re passing out goodies. Think of things you might find at a dollar store, party store, or discount store, like:
- Arts and crafts (mini notebooks, coloring books, crayons)
- Pencils, erasers, pencil toppers
- Small toys like balls or Halloween-themed toys
- Temporary tattoos
- Jewelry – a big hit for boys and girls if it lights up, if it glows, or if it’s Halloween themed like spider rings
- Glow sticks
- Mini Play-Doh
- Games and card games
- Mini puzzles
Remember Your Oral Health Tips
We know it’s not realistic to stop your kids from eating candy on Halloween (and you too)! Kids don’t go trick-or-treating for apples, after all. So if your kids do indulge, keep these oral health tips in mind:
- Try to avoid the “bad” candy as much as possible.
- Remind your kids to rinse their mouth with water or swish it around after they eat any candy or sweets.
- Make sure they brush at night. You may need to help little ones, who are prone to missing back teeth especially. All those grooves provide the perfect hiding place for food!
- Encourage them to floss. Buy kid-themed flossers if it helps.
- Set a limit on how much candy your kids can have per day. Keep it away from them if they’re likely to snack on it throughout the day or after their teeth are brushed at night.
- Decide to keep it in the house for a set amount of time.
- Donate some or all of the candy to our troops – and get paid! That’s right, we offer a candy buyback after Halloween each year, and we’ll pay your kids by the pound for it. Last year, we bought back over 300 pounds of candy!
It also helps to remind your kids, especially young ones, about dental decay caused by too much sugar. You don’t have to make it scary or feel like a lecture, though. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has some fun coloring pages that your kids will enjoy while learning about their dental health.
Treat Your Family To Healthy Smiles!
We hope you and your family can enjoy a few healthy Halloween treats in Lincroft this year! If your kids are due for checkups soon, now is a great time to make those appointments. We’ll check for cavities and provide nutritional advice at these biannual appointments. Call Newman Springs Dental Care at (732) 352-3903 today or reach us online.