As an experienced pediatric dentist, I can tell you that nothing will be spookier than a mouthful of cavities.
It’s a good time to have your kids’ teeth examined before the onslaught of candy they’ll likely receive. I will tell you with certainty that if a tooth starts hurting right after Halloween, then the teeth were already in bad shape. And now that the pandemic has made people less likely to visit healthcare providers for routine checks and non-emergencies, prevention and home care are more important than ever.
In this article, I’ll discuss a few expert tips that can keep Halloween healthy without ruining the fun.
Obviously, candy is a huge part of Halloween for kids. Removing it completely would take away much of the fun. However, the germs in our mouths that cause tooth decay eat sugars in candy and produce acids that erode our tooth structure and cause decay.
The combination of the following three simple strategies is what helps stop the process:
1. Keep our mouths clean, so there are fewer of those sugar-eating germs. Brush well, twice daily.
2. Give the germs in our mouth less of the sugars that feed them. Reduce the amount of candy.
3. Cut down the amount of time the sugar is in our mouths. Limit times per day when candy is eaten.
Brushing is the one we all know, but the other two can be a bit trickier. Let’s talk details. The different sugar types in our mouths make a massive difference in how quickly cavities can develop or if they even develop at all.
Refined sugars like juice, soda, hard candy, and gummies will cause tooth decay the fastest because our mouth germs directly use the sugars in them. But believe it or not, there are some enjoyable snacks that don’t do the damage that candy will.
Dairy products, grains, peanut butter, fresh fruit, and proteins have different sugars that greatly slow down the cavities process because the germs can’t use them as readily. Any candy containing Xylitol (natural sugar that our mouth germs can’t use) is very helpful. Chewing sugar-free gum is the next best thing to brushing your teeth. Also, remember to limit the amount of time your child spends eating candy by setting timers or restricting consumption to after meals or before brushing.
So which ones may be good alternatives for trick-or-treaters? Granola bars are always a classic; beef jerky is a kid fave, as are cheese sticks and pepperoni sticks.
Many pediatric dental offices do “Candy Buy-Backs,” which offer your kids the opportunity to trade in candy for toys and prizes or even gift certificates and cash! My office, Union Village Kids’ Dentistry in Henderson, NV will offer such a program.
If you can combine these simple tools, your kids will be healthier, and the days and weeks after Halloween will be much less frightening!
Feel free to follow @Dr.RayTucker for updates and reach out directly for any advice. Or make an appointment for your little ghouls and goblins!
“I am a pediatric dentist with 8 years experience treating the most severe cases of dental decay, bottle rot, and oral neglect. I recently moved to Las Vegas from Portland, OR, and pivoted my practice to focus more on prevention rather than treatment. Now my goal is to give education and information to moms, dads, and kids, so that they have happier, healthier experiences and avoid drilling and filling. “
This article is not a paid or sponsored contribution