Dentistry Expert Dr. Jason Rosenfeld, DMD: BOO! Halloween Survival Tips
Candy is not exactly health food. But with good oral hygiene habits already in place, there are ways to enjoy this special day and avoid scary mouths.
#1 Halloween Candy vs. Cavities: Don't make kids choose
Halloween is a holiday to enjoy dressing in costume and trick-or-treating. After your children come home, go through their bags of Halloween candy together. Tell them to pick the 10 or so treats they want most. Then place the remaining treats out of sight.
#2 Set a "Treat Time"
Cavities and tooth decay are caused by prolonged exposure to sugar. If kids know there is a designated time for their special treat, they will learn to enjoy the treat at that time. After treat time, brush teeth to remove sugar remaining on their teeth and rinse with water to remove as much sugar as possible. This teaches kids that eating sweets is special and not an ongoing event. Moderation is the key.
#3 Choose your candy carefully
• Sticky candies are the worst for teeth. Taffy, caramels, and gummies adhere to every nook and cranny on tooth surfaces and saliva isn't able to wash away the stickiness as with other types of candy. Kids should brush their teeth as soon as possible after eating these candies.
• Hard candy like lollipops and jawbreakers are almost as bad. Although they do not stick to teeth, they take a longer to dissolve. As a result, teeth are exposed to sugar for a longer period of time.
• Sour candy is also bad for your teeth on account of higher acidity which breaks down tooth enamel quickly. Candy such as Pixy-Sticks, composed of sugar and acid, dissolves quickly in the mouth and are swallowed without chewing. This candy quickly changes the mouth's PH and feeds bacteria with sugar. Sour and sticky candy should be avoided since it poses the double threat of sticking to the teeth longer with additional acidic content.
• Chocolate, with no sticky fillings, is a better option. This candy will generally not stick to teeth as easily, making it a better choice when your child is asking for a treat.
• Sugar-free gum may be the best choice because it leaves no sticky residue. It can also help clean out food debris and stimulate saliva production which helps keep our mouths less acidic and less prone to cavities.
#4 Candy is not dinner
If left up to kids, many would happily eat candy for dinner. Feeding kids a healthy dinner before trick-or-treating is a great way to avoid bingeing on sweets. Plus eating dinner will kick start saliva production, in turn protecting teeth from candy's sugar and acidity eaten after trick-or- treating.
#5 Keep teeth brushing fun
Since toothbrushes should be replaced every 3-4 months, make Halloween an occasion for a new toothbrush. Children are more likely to brush with a favorite toothbrush.
We are proud supporters of Operation Gratitude sending donations of Halloween candy to US Troops. Stop by our office for Operation Gratitude's Candy Buy Back Program in early November. Prizes, Gifts, GALORE!
Dr. Jason Rosenfeld, DMD
1395 Route 23 South, Butler, NJ 07405
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