Ask Dr. Jill B. Smith, DMD: Halloween Candy, More Tricks than Treats?
My kids always really look forward to trick-or-treating on Halloween, and I have to admit, I usually grab a few treats from their pumpkin pails. How concerned should I be about our teeth and all these extra sugary snacks?
Halloween candy = sugar = cavities…right? If you take precautions, these fall sweets don’t have to be nearly as spooky as they may seem. While I’d prefer we all choose a crunchy apple over mini Snickers, the key to enjoying sweets is to watch the quantity and the frequency of these treats. The reason dentists worry about sugar is that sugar is the substance bacteria thrives on. When sugar is allowed to remain on teeth for a period of time, bacteria begins to eat and metabolize the sugar into “acids,” and it is these acids that cause tooth decay. I love these quick tips from nutritionist Joy Bauer featured on WCVB Channel 5 TV to minimize sugar levels to keep you and your kid’s teeth healthy.
– Limit treat consumption to a few pieces per day, at one time, and not all throughout the day.
– Mix in healthy snacks like cheese and fruits that stimulate saliva production to help remove damaging bacteria.
– Keep the oral health regimen up and brush teeth at least twice a day and use floss and mouthwash. Be sure children do not go to sleep with candy on their teeth.
Another option to help limit the candy in your home, and tooth decay, is participating in Candy for the Troops! This program allows your children to keep a small portion of their candy, and then they donate the rest to an organization such as a school or church that is sending candy to the men and women of our U.S. military. My children’s school has been doing this for the past 6 years and has received several letters of thanks from the service people and heard stories of how the treats were shared with the children of Iraq and Afghanistan. Ask at your child’s school or see if any businesses in your local area are participating this year.
While you can’t control what the kids pick up at neighbor’s homes, you may also want to be on the lookout for Beneo’s Palatinose, an innovative alternative to candy-coated chocolates. Featured on New Beauty, although not yet available for purchase, these “tooth-friendly” options may just be the perfect answer so keep any eye out on grocery store shelves for next Halloween.
– Dr. Jill B. Smith, DMD