Halloween is just around the corner and we all know that for children, Halloween means candy and lots of it!
However, when your child consumes sugary food or drinks, the bacteria (germs) in the dental plaque on the teeth mix with the sugars in the candy to make a mild acid. This acid attacks the hard outer layer of the tooth, called the enamel. If the dental plaque isn’t removed every day by brushing and flossing, over time, the enamel gets soft and a cavity forms. The damage to the tooth depends on how much sugar goes in the mouth and how long it stays there. In other words, the longer and more often sugar touches the teeth, the more damage it can do.
Healthy Halloween Tips
- Have a game plan
Before heading out, take a minute to talk about expectations. How long will trick-or-treating last? How much candy will be eaten when getting home? What will be the treats-per-day limit?
- Eat treats (only) with a meal
Be a role model by sitting with your kids, distraction-free, and enjoying a treat after a meal. Mention what you like about the treat you chose. Bonus points: Mention what you like about your main course too!
- Use a small bag and ditch non-favourites
One solution to avoid waste is to use smaller trick-or-treat bags to start. Another solution: a mid-November visit from the "Switch Witch" who trades remaining candy for something like a small toy or passes to an indoor waterslide park!
- The right fit
It is important to make sure that your child's costume fits properly to prevent trips and falls. Avoid items such as oversized shoes, high heels, long dresses or capes.
- Avoid masks
Masks make it hard for children to see what's around them, including cars. Try a hypoallergenic (less likely to cause an allergic reaction), non-toxic make-up kit instead.
- Check your treats
Tell your child not to eat any treats before they get home. When home, you can look through your treats together to make sure everything is safe to eat and doesn't contain any ingredients that your child may be allergic to.
- Set a treat time
To resist constant snacking, it is best to limit snacking to particular times. Frequent snackers are at a greater risk of tooth decay as the mouth has constant acidic conditions that wear away at tooth enamel leading to cavities.
- Eat a balanced meal
Healthy meals and snacks should always come before candy and treats. Send the kids trick or treating with a good healthy meal. A satisfied stomach will indulge in less sweets.
- Brush, floss and rinse
Sticky candy can get stuck in between teeth and cause tooth decay. Brushing and flossing after a snack is ideal, but rinsing with a glass of water after eating a sugary treat will also help wash away some of the sugars and acids. After flossing, roll it up in a tiny ball and put it in the garbage. Never flush floss down the toilet.
- Have Fun!
Show your family there is more to Halloween than the candy, enjoy time being active outside together and exploring your neighbourhood.
Halloween with Braces can be Sweet
Halloween candy can be a nightmare for someone who wears braces, but it doesn’t have to be. Trick-or-treaters who wear braces should avoid nuts, popcorn, tortilla chips, hard candy, caramel and other chewy candies to keep their braces safe and intact. However, there are plenty of other things that trick-or-treaters who wear braces can enjoy, like chocolate!
Now that you have reviewed these healthy Halloween tips, have your child complete “Spooktacular Smiles” activity (PDF 201 KB) — a fun, fill-in-the-blanks activity that will help your child learn important tips about good oral health.
You can find more information on caring for your child’s teeth and preventing cavities all year round on CDA’s website at www.cda-adc.ca.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!