Halloween Candy ... A Trick Or A Treat?

Dodge A Dental Disaster This Halloween

by Dr. Edmond Suh // October - November - December 2016

Halloween, in all its chewy, gooey, caramel-coated glory, is known to wreak havoc on children’s developing teeth (not to mention the teeth of Mom and Dad who are known to sneak some treats here and there). It is the one night each year when dentists everywhere are filled with fear for their youngest patients’ dental health – but they also know it’s a frightfully fun night that little ghosts and goblins excitedly anticipate and don’t want to deprive them of this spooktacular experience.

Here are a few tips for you and your little trick-or-treaters to keep in mind this Halloween so their pearly whites can survive the scary onslaught of sugary treats without putting a damper on the festivities. 

Throw A Dinner Party

Kick off your celebration with an early dinner before you all ven-ture out for a spooktacular night of Halloween fun. Gathering friends and neighbors together for a casual meal before heading out on your haunts will provide a wholesome and nutritious distraction for little goblins. Ask guests to bring their favorite potluck dishes, including plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as fun finger foods for little hands. The temptation to nibble every last piece of candy will be easier to resist when your caped crusader or pretty princess starts the evening off with a full, well-nourished tummy.

Fun And Games

Candy may be one of the most enticing and memorable parts of the Halloween tradition, but it does not have to be the main attraction. A little preparation and party planning can help take the focus off the lollipops and fruit chews. Set up several ghoulish games and crafts, host a neighborhood costume contest, or start a new tradition like serving popcorn and watching family- friendly Halloween-themed movies after your favorite trick-or-treaters return home. Fun times spent with friends and family can help take the spotlight off those little individual packs of sugary sweets – or should I say “cavities in the making.” 

Go For Faux 

This strategy will not win you any popularity contests from neighborhood trick-or-treaters, but for your own children, try substituting sugar-free candy for the real thing. If you do plan on handing out sugar-free treats to the little witches, ghosts, and goblins that will be ringing your doorbell this Halloween, check out a few of the websites for diabetics and dieters that list and provide ratings for sugar-free treats beforehand. You may be surprised by the number of sugarless candies on the market that receive rave customer reviews for flavor. 

Sticky Means Icky 

Good for you if you are able to sway your children to the sugar-free candies that are in their Halloween candy swag bags. But if your kids resist going the sugar-free route, at least try to guide them away from the worst offenders. Any candy that is very sour or sticky will combine with saliva inside their mouths, creating an especially acidic environment that is corrosive and potentially damaging to tooth enamel. Candy that has a milder flavor and dissolves quickly will at least be less damaging by comparison. Parents may not realize that it is not just the sugar that is so destructive to teeth, but the combination of sugar with saliva that encourages the growth of bacteria inside the mouth.

Enjoy, But Then Rinse, Brush, And Floss – And Do It Quickly! 

Here is your Halloween worst-case scenario: in spite of your superhuman parenting powers and the great tips I have provided, your child has managed to gobble large quantities of the sweetest, stickiest candy in his or her bag. It takes only 20 minutes after eating these cavity-causing culprits for their damaging effects to set in, so make sure your children brush their teeth as quickly as possible. If you will be away from home when your little ones ravage their Halloween loot, asking them to rinse their mouth with water to remove sugary residue and help restore their mouths’ natural pH level is better than doing nothing until you get home and they can perform their regular dental hygiene routine. 
Halloween can be a frightfully fun time for children. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare for their teeth. Following these tips can help keep your children’s chompers healthy this Halloween, and all through the year.

Dr. Edmond Suh

Owner of Supremia Dentistry, located at 1711 S. Main St. in Wake Forest.