Halloween and Your Kids' Teeth

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Plain chocolate for trick or treaters with bracesHalloween is upon us! If you are getting ready to send your little ones out trick-or-treating, you may be concerned about how all that candy will affect their teeth. It's true that candy – and sugar in general – causes cavities. But that doesn't mean your kids can't enjoy this spook-tacular holiday. Read below for our family dentist's tips.

How Bad is Candy for Kids' Teeth?

Candy isn't generally good for anyone's teeth; however, enjoying sweets in moderation is not something you have to eliminate. Still, it is good to be aware of the worst case scenarios with candy, which we outline below.

  • Chipped teeth: Certain candies are quite firm and some are brittle. We're thinking of toffee, hard candies, rock candy, stick candies, Gobstoppers, lollipops, etc. If bitten into, these candies can chip or break a tooth. And it is likely to be the front, most visible teeth that break.
  • Broken tooth restoration: Chewy sweets have the potential to dislodge or loosen dental fillings, tooth crowns and other restorations. Examples include taffy, Tootsie Rolls, gum drops, licorice and jelly beans.
  • Tooth decay: Sugar causes cavities. The bacteria present on our teeth breaks down the sugar and starches that is contained in plaque, and they produce an acidic substance as they do so. It is this acid that begins to eat away at tooth enamel, making a cavity.

So we know that candy isn't great for oral health or could potentially lead to a dental emergency. Halloween candy can still be enjoyed though! With a little care and moderation, your kids can have healthy mouths while also partaking in treats.

Prevent the Ill Effects of Halloween Candy

So what can you do to protect your kids' teeth while also letting them enjoy their Halloween bounty? Here are a few tips:

  • Trick-or-treat after having a meal. If your children have a full stomach and don't feel hungry, they may not be tempted to overdo it on candy.
  • Moderate how many pieces they eat each day. You may want to set aside a certain number of treats each day, for enjoyment at a certain time of day. You could even consider throwing the leftovers out or freezing them.
  • Remember that not all candy is the same. Plain chocolate is one of the least harmful sweets when it comes to teeth. It dissolves quickly, so the sugar isn't sticking to the enamel for hours afterward like other candy.
  • Drink a glass of water after candy. It will help to rinse away a lot of the cavity-causing sugar on the enamel and gums.
  • Consider incorporating candy into a meal as the dessert. When eaten after dinner or lunch, sugary treats are made a little less harmful to the teeth. That's because saliva is produced when you eat a meal, and the saliva rinses away a lot of the candy debris so that it doesn't sit on the surface of the teeth. Additionally, saliva neutralizes the acid that causes cavities. And when candy is eaten after dinner, bedtime brushing and flossing isn't far behind.
  • Brush and floss. Your kids' routine dental hygiene is essential to preventing cavities and gum disease. Brushing and flossing disrupts the film of plaque on the teeth and gums, reducing the cavity-causing activity of bacteria in the plaque.

With these tips in mind, your children can have fun with their friends and you can rest easy knowing you are preventing teeth problems.

Arrange an Appointment in Crystal Lake

Are you or your children due for a cleaning and checkup? Dr. Preet Sandhu and our experienced dental hygiene team are passionate about helping our patients maintain healthy smiles. To learn more about us, or to arrange your appointment with our dentist in Crystal Lake, Illinois, please call our team at 815-893-6345.

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