Believe it or not, even dentists’ kids go trick-or-treating. We may even allow our little ones to eat candy (within reason). But we do have a few tricks up our sleeves to ensure that our children don’t go overboard with the sweet stuff — whether on October 31st or any other time of the year.
Read on to learn how your kids can have an awesome Halloween night, enjoy a few sweet treats, but come out of it all with their teeth in great shape.
And book your family’s next dental appointments at Legacy Smiles. Call our office in Billings, MT office at 406-794-3114.
Halloween is an excellent night to make a delicious but casual dinner. Something hearty and warm to counter the chilly fall weather, something that your kids love to eat. Whether your family’s style is chili night, taco night, make-your-own-pizza night (or order-in-pizza night), serving a good meal before trick-or-treating is a smart way to prevent your kids from filling up on candy as they go from house to house. Send them out on a empty stomach, and they will satiate their hunger with the treats. (And could you really blame them?)
Drink Water. Lots of Water.
Water is a wonderful thing. After all, it sustains life, right? Plus it helps rinse out the mouth and keep it clean. Encourage your kids to drink lots of water. This is good advice any time of year, but especially Halloween night. Tap water is better than bottled, as tap is fortified with enamel-strengthening fluoride. You may even want to fill up a reusable water bottle for each of your kids so they can take it along with them when they trick-or-treat.
Put Away Other Sweet Stuff
Do your kids like to drink juice, soda, sports drinks, or sweetened milk? Do they eat sweet snacks like flavored yogurt, fruit puree pouches, or granola bars? If so, it’s a good idea to put them away, at least for tonight. These beverages and foods are packed with sugar and not good for dental health. Have your kids stick to low-sugar foods and water, and then you can let them enjoy some of their Halloween candy without worrying about damaging their teeth and gums.
What to Do with the Stash?
So your kids are home with all of their loot. Now what? Do you let them loose with it to do whatever they want? No, it’s totally fine to set limits on what and how much candy your kids can eat. You may want to go through it with them to sort out the confections that are especially bad for their teeth. The worst offenders include:
- Anything chewy, sticky, or gummy. These treats get stuck in the grooves of the teeth and encourage the growth of bacteria, which give off acids that erode the tooth enamel. Examples include gummy bears, candy corn, jelly beans, caramel, taffy, packets of “fruit snacks,” and fruit roll-ups. Even dried fruit.
- Hard candy, including lollipops. When you suck on hard candy, saliva mixes with the sugar and coats your teeth. Good for bacteria, not good for dental health. If you prefer chewing your hard candy, you may end up breaking or cracking a tooth. Best to avoid these sweets altogether!
- Sour candies don’t need bacteria to generate harmful acids for them. Acids are what give them their pucker-worthy qualities! Sour chewy candies are doubly damaging.
Better options include chocolate (as long as the treat doesn’t contain chewy elements like caramel), peanut butter cups, and sugarless gum — which actually helps keep the teeth clean.
If your child doesn’t want to part with any of their candy, it’s totally fine to “buy” it off him or her with whatever sort of incentive works, be it a toy or money. Another good idea is to look for an organization that accepts candy donations — for the military, for example. You won’t have to waste it, and you and your child will be doing a good thing for someone else.
After separating the “bad” from the “okay in moderation,” we suggest allowing each child to pick out a couple of treats for consumption on Halloween night, and putting away the rest. You can hand it out over time (or toss it if your child forgets about it, which they often do).
And, whether a regular night or Halloween night, don’t forget oral hygiene. Make sure your kids brush and floss thoroughly before bedtime.