Halloween for dentists might be like Christmas for the Grinch. Just because it’s not our favorite holiday (we prefer Child Health Day on October 1 or National Children’s Dental Health Month in February) doesn’t mean we’re here to rain on the Halloween parade.
Halloween Tips From Your Local Pediatric Dentist
Instead, we want to provide helpful, practical tips to make this Halloween as fun and healthy as possible. Your child will eat candy anyway, so Halloween offers an excellent time to teach your children about sugar consumption and mitigating its effects.
1. Eat Candy With Meals
After your child comes home from trick-or-treating with two pillowcases worth of sugary loot, they’re going to be tempted to eat the candy throughout the day. They’ll want to eat some that night, the next morning, at school, and really any time they can. It’s important that you encourage your child (as much as possible!) to eat candy with meals or just after.
The science behind this relates to the elevated levels of saliva we produce as we eat. More saliva in the mouth helps to wash away bacteria and food particles. So, if you eat candy with a meal, there’s a better chance that the sugary food particles will wash away rather than target teeth.
2. Choose Candies That You Eat Quickly
The longer a sugary candy stays in the mouth, the more likely it is to cause harm. Indeed, candies that stay in the mouth for longer (think: Jolly Ranchers, lollipops, Gobstoppers, etc.) tend to catalyze more tooth decay.
As much as you can, give out candy that you eat in a few bites such as chocolate bars. If you ration your child’s candy supply, you could also take out the candies that they would suck on. Your child probably won’t notice, and you’ll be doing them a favor!
3. Avoid Sticky Candy
Similarly to candy that stays in your mouth for a longer period, sticky candy is a real antagonist for your child’s teeth. That’s because sticky candy (anything with caramel, taffy, or gummies), well, sticks to the teeth. Because the candy has stuck to the enamel of the teeth, it takes much longer for saliva to wash away the residue.
End result? Increased risk of tooth decay.
4. Stay Hydrated
It’s imperative for your child to stay hydrated if they’ll be consuming an above-average amount of sugar. While hydration is always a staple of dental health, it’s never more important than on Halloween. Look for tap water or bottled water that is fluoridated. The fluoride fortifies teeth, making them more resilient against sugary invasions.
If your child normally drinks soda, consider limiting soda intake on Halloween. If they’re already eating more sugar, at least substituting sugary drinks for water is a better alternative.
5. Donate Some Candy
Much of the fun of Halloween comes from trick-or-treating, dressing in costume, and watching local Halloween parades. While eating candy is a special treat for some of the holiday, there’s really no need to keep candy on-hand at the house. Have your children choose a few of their favorite candies to keep after Halloween, and consider donating the rest.
This is a great solution for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t take away from your child’s awesome Halloween. They’ll still eat candy to their heart’s content. It’s also an excellent way to teach your child about donation and inequity. Depending on their age, you can explain to them that some children don’t get to trick-or-treat the same way and that sharing is important. You could also consider a program such as Operation Gratitude that sends Halloween candy to troops deployed overseas. Finally, you’re getting the candy out of your house!
6. Find A Great Pediatric Dentist
While Halloween might be the most obvious sugar-based day, the reality is that our children face sugary food every day of the year.
It’s really important to find a pediatric dentist who creates a positive atmosphere and knows how to talk to your child about oral health.
Whether it’s October 31 or any other day of the year, there’s no substitute for a great pediatric dentist.
If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist in Seattle, look no further than First Hill Dental Center. We’re conveniently located on First Hill, and we serve Belltown, downtown Seattle, Queen Anne, Ballard, and Capitol Hill.