Halloween is almost here, and your kids are brimming with excitement for trick-or-treating. With their adorable costumes come an insane amount of Halloween candy, however, and as a mother you worry about how that candy will affect their dental health. Read on to discover helpful tips to healthy (okay, healthier) Halloween snacking.
The Worst Kinds of Candy for your Teeth
Not surprisingly, most candy is bad for your teeth, but taffy candies filled with caramel, coconuts or nuts are especially bad for teeth because they stick to everything inside your mouth! Have you ever noticed that it takes a solid couple of minutes to fully chew and swallow a 100 Grand Bar? The chewy caramel will stick to the grooves of your teeth, and the longer it sticks to your teeth, the longer bacteria can feed on it, which produces cavity-causing acid. Chewy and sticky candies are especially bad for kids with braces, as they could get caught in them and even ruin them.
>> Read more: The Official Skinny Mom Guide to Halloween Candy
Hard candies like lollipops and jawbreakers are also bad for your teeth. They take a long time to dissolve in your mouth, and the longer they're in your mouth, the more acidic the environment in your mouth becomes. It takes only 20 seconds for your mouth's bacteria to convert sugar into acid, and that acid is active for 20-30 minutes!
Sour candy isn't great for your chompers, either. The high acidic content can break down the tooth enamel that toothpaste and fluoride works so hard to preserve.
You might think that white powdery candy like Pixie Sticks can be a little better for your teeth because it doesn't take long to dissolve, and you're barely chewing it at all, but you would be wrong. "White powdery candies contain nothing but sugar and can lead to cavities by changing the mouth's pH levels and giving bacteria straight sugar to feast on," said Dr. Timothy Chase, cosmetic dentist and partner at Smiles NY. Most moms have nightmares about sugar affecting their kids' behavior anyways! Why give them straight sugar?
The Best Kinds of Candy for your Teeth
This next sentence might be music to your ears: chocolate is your best option when it comes to Halloween candy! As long as there are no sticky fillings inside it, chocolate won't stick to your teeth; therefore, all that bacteria that feeds on other candies won't even be around!
Sugar-free gum is also a more tooth-friendly option. It leaves no plaque-causing sticky residue behind, because it's sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar that bacteria are unable to form plaque on.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR KIDS' TEETH HEALTHY THIS SUGAR SEASON
Brush teeth immediately after eating candy. Brushing immediately after eating all those sugary treats will ensure less cavities for your little Halloween monsters. At least have them drink some water after eating the candy! Learn more about brushing habits here.
Mix some popcorn and nuts in with candy. Popcorn and nuts are great runner-ups for Halloween candy because they're healthy and kids usually love them!
>> Read more: Peanut-Free Halloween Treats
Mix some non-food items in with candy. You might think this will make your house unpopular for trick-or-treating, but some kids will get excited for a spider ring or Halloween-themed tattoo instead of another Kit Kat! Plus, it keeps the sugar at bay.
Designate a time each day to eat Halloween candy. During the days and weeks after Halloween, designate a time each day when the kids can eat their candy. That way, it cuts down on all-day snacking (therefore, all-day bacteria and cavity-causing acid) and gives your kids something to look forward to. Maybe once they finish all their homework they can eat a few pieces of their Halloween candy!
Donate some of the candy. Teaching your kids to give back is always a good idea, and it will cut down on all the sweets they'll consume in sugar season. For example, you can have them send some of their candy to troops overseas! Check out Any Soldier to learn how.
The key here, just like any other time, is moderation! Don't let your kids go overboard this sugar season, because not only could that ruin their dental hygiene, but it could upset their stomach too. And nobody wants to deal with a kid with an upset stomach after an exhausting night of trick-or-treating.