Whether you’re taking your kids or grandkids out to trick-or-treat or buying goodies for costumed guests with expectations of filling their bags, you can feel a little better about their oral health with a few tips from your Contemporary Dentistry and Implantology team. This season, we’d like to share some healthy Halloween treats – and some not-so-healthy Halloween tricks – that you can keep in mind when shopping for treats or sorting your kids’ candy.
We’re always happy to discuss any dental tips at your visits, whether related to nutrition or just oral hygiene at home. Call Contemporary Dentistry and Implantology at 978-278-1760 if you need to schedule an appointment.
Take These Tricks To The Trash
We’re here to help families keep their smiles in the best condition possible. We don’t judge our patients for any dental problems they suffer, but we want to help you avoid them if possible. Two common problems we treat are cavities and damaged teeth from dental emergencies. You’re probably not surprised to hear that sugar can lead to tooth decay, but you might not have considered that it’s a culprit for many broken and cracked teeth.
For those two reasons, we encourage you to take the following sweets off your shopping list or encourage your kids to dump them from their Halloween bags:
- Chewy and sticky sweets, including gum, fruity chews, gummies, and caramels, which are difficult to rinse off teeth and can stay on them even after brushing
- Hard sweets, including jawbreakers, suckers, and other hard candy, which can also stick inside tooth grooves and crack teeth
- Sour candy, including sour gummies, which contain acids that damage protective tooth enamel
Any combination of these candies can be especially hard on your kids’ teeth, which don’t have the same level of protection as adult teeth do. We know kids aren’t especially diligent about brushing and flossing properly too. So it’s best to limit these as much as possible or avoid them altogether.
We understand that kids will likely get a lot of these items while trick-or-treating. If avoiding these sweets is not possible, keep reading for tips on how to minimize any damage.
Munch On These Treats In Moderation
Even as dentists and dental professionals, we have our own sweet tooth and like the occasional treat every now and then. For Halloween, we’ve given out some of the better options below (and maybe munched on a few leftovers!). You may already buy these for your kids’ snacks and lunches. So if your kids end up with any of these in their bags, you can feel less guilty about them eating them. Just remember that the starches in some items tend to build up if they’re eaten too often.
- Snack-size popcorn (popped bags or mini microwave bags)
- Snack-size crackers, multigrain chips, tortilla chips, pretzels
- Snack-size graham crackers or animal crackers
- Sandwich crackers
- Raisins, fruit leather, dried fruit
- Real fruit juice boxes
- Tangerines (you can even decorate or put stickers on them!)
- Milk chocolate bars
- Individual trail mix (watch for allergies for anything containing nuts)
- Chocolate or yogurt raisins and nuts
Savor These Sweet Alternatives
If you’ve decided you want to buy healthy Halloween treats or encourage your kids to eat them in their treat bags, here are a few ideas:
- Dark chocolate – one of the best candy options with antioxidants that may promote better oral health
- Sugarless gum containing xylitol, proven to help prevent tooth decay
- Snack-size peanut butter packs for those without allergies
- Fruits like kid-sized apples
Consider These Cool Non-Candy Choices
If you want to avoid candy or food altogether, chances are your trick-or-treaters will get more enjoyment from these treasures we’ve listed below. Plus, you can try trading some of your kids’ off-limits candy for these cooler treats. In fact, take your kids with you when you pick them out at discount stores, dollar stores, or party stores so you can be sure you get what they like and what trick-or-treaters will like too.
- Halloween, light-up, or glow jewelry
- Stickers, stamps, or temporary tattoos
- Drawing or activity pads
- Crayons, pencils, erasers, stencils, and other arts & crafts
- Small balls
- Small puzzles, games, and packs of cards
- Lip balm
- Small containers of Play-Doh
- Magic grow capsules (animals)
Remember These Rewarding Tips For Happy Smiles
Whether your kids eat sour gummies or apples, these tips can help keep their precious smiles in better shape. And they apply anytime!
- Make sure they brush in the morning and at night. Help little kids get those back teeth where food is prone to getting stuck.
- Use flossers at night to get trapped food between teeth.
- Encourage them to drink water after snacking or indulging in sweets. It will help wash the sugars off their teeth.
- Again, exchange tooth-unfriendly treats for non-candy options, or come up with a plan before Halloween for candy that’s not tooth-friendly, like choosing something better if given a choice when they’re trick-or-treating.
- Limit the amount of treats every day, like two pieces after dinner. Decide on this before Halloween so you establish an understanding.
- Decide to donate or get rid of the candy or certain candy after a set time period.
You might have noticed we mentioned talking about your kids’ treats before Halloween. We know from experience that lectures aren’t always the most effective way to convey this information. One way to help your kids understand good and bad choices for their teeth is in a fun, pressure-free way. Take a look at how the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does this through their Mouth Monsters. They even have coloring pages your kids can decorate and hang on the refrigerator as cool reminders.
See Us To Protect Their Sweet Smiles
We hope we’ve given you some good ideas for guilt-free, healthy Halloween treats. For other ideas on keeping your family’s smiles healthy year-round, call Contemporary Dentistry and Implantology at 978-278-1760 to request convenient checkups today. We’re near several schools, plus we open as early as 7:30 a.m., close as late as 8 p.m., and offer Friday and Saturday appointments. We hope you have a fun Halloween!