Haunted houses and ghosts and goblins are not the scariest part of Halloween. The truly frightening thing is the amount of sugar children consume. Sugar, coupled with bacteria in the mouth, produces an acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Overtime this process can lead to tooth decay. Let your children enjoy candy on Halloween, but follow Dr. Marra’s tips for preventing an overindulgence of sugar and potential cavities.
Eat a healthy dinner before trick-or-treating. An empty belly will encourage your kids to stuff themselves with more candy. Fill up on a nutritious meal and then enjoy the treats instead of making the treats a meal.
Drink water, preferably with fluoride. Let your children sip on water while trick-or-treating or encourage them to drink water as they chow down on their Halloween loot when they return home. Water helps wash sugar from the teeth.
Avoid hard and chewy candies. Hard candy (Jolly Ranchers or lollipops) or chewy candies (taffy and gummies) prolong the amount of time that candy is in your mouth and in contact with your teeth. Chocolate is a much better option because it melts in your mouth quickly.
Brush over your children’s teeth on Halloween night. A thorough brushing is especially needed after eating treats high in sugar. Even older elementary school-aged children should have a parent brush over their teeth on Halloween night to ensure no tooth is missed. Remember candy can stick on and in between teeth.
Don’t allow children to keep candy stashes in their bedrooms. Open access to candy is a recipe for cavities. Bedroom candy storage increases the temptation for your children to eat more than they should and to eat after brushing teeth. Remember the longer sugar stays in contact with the teeth, the more potential there is for developing cavities.
Conduct a trade. Cut down on weeks of candy gorging following Halloween by offering your children a trade. In exchange for discarding a certain amount of candy, children can buy a book or small toy or earn a special privilege.
Donate candy. Children get more candy on Halloween than they need. Consider donating candy to a local charity or homeless shelter accepting candy donations. Another option is donating to Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages with candy to troops serving overseas. Visit www.operationgratitude