Here at Weddell Dental, our team loves to celebrate the spooky season by going to parties, handing out treats (and perhaps indulging in some ourselves), and helping with our kids’ and grandkids’ fall events! We also like to take a little time during this season to help our patients make the holiday a little more smile-friendly, whether for parents who are now stuck with pounds of candy or patients who are giving out candy to their little costumed visitors.
Take a look at some of the ideas below for healthy Halloween treats and alternatives that can make you feel more confident about protecting your kids’ smiles. You’re welcome to call our Bloomington office at 952-679-1365 if you’d like to ask us about any dental nutrition tips at your or your child’s next checkup.
Avoid These Tooth Terrors
As much as we have a sweet tooth on occasion, there are some treats that are best left at the store or at the bottom of the candy bowl. Here are the main smile culprits – see if you can’t guess why:
- Sticky sweets like gum and gummies
- Chewy sweets like caramels, taffy, and fruit chews
- Hard sweets like lollipops and jawbreakers
- Acidic sweets like sour gummies
If you guessed that sticky and chewy candies make teeth more prone to cavities, you’d be right. The sugary substances are stubborn and, even with brushing and flossing, can stay stuck inside back teeth and in between teeth. There, they have the chance to start eating through enamel as bacteria feed off the sugars and create dangerous acids. Since kids’ tooth enamel is still building up, they are at greater risk for decay. Plus, their oral care habits may not yet be “perfected,” so this adds to the risk.
Acidic candy has the same effect of eating away at tooth enamel. Chewy acidic candy or hard acidic candy is clearly a double whammy! And hard candy can crack and break teeth – a dental emergency we can help with but would prefer you avoid, especially on Halloween!
Enjoy These Tooth Temptations In Moderation
There are better choices than sticky, hard, and acidic candy. In fact, some aren’t even candy at all. You’ll see that many of these choices are foods you regularly buy and pack for your kids’ lunches or keep on hand for after-school snacks. With less sugar to get stuck in teeth and less acid to create tooth decay, you won’t have to ban these treats for oral health reasons. Just be sure that these foods aren’t snacked on throughout the day, as the starches in many can still build up on teeth.
- Kid-sized packs of snacks like pretzels, multigrain or tortilla chips, and crackers
- Natural cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers (watch for nut allergies for any nut product, of course)
- Individual bags or mini packs of fat-free popcorn
- Individual packs of trail mix
- Dried fruits, like fruit leather, raisins, and mixed dried fruit packs
- Real fruit juice boxes
- Tangerines (they are acidic)
- Milk chocolate bars
- Chocolate-coated raisins or nuts
- Yogurt-coated raisins or nuts
- Granola bars
Indulge In These Tooth-Friendly Treats
For peace of mind, you may choose to buy or encourage your kids to eat more of these healthy Halloween treats:
- Fresh fruit like small apples and bananas (not mushy, and bonus if decorated with Halloween stickers!)
- Dark chocolate (the best candy option, which contains bacteria-fighting antioxidants and washes off easily)
- Sugarless gum (xylitol in particular helps fight cavities)
- Individual peanut butter packs (again, not for those with nut allergies)
Consider These Halloween Non-Candy Alternatives
No one says you have to buy candy or sweets for Halloween. Your kids and trick-or-treaters are sure to get plenty of candy anyway, so why not make your “treats” stand out? They’ll last longer and provide more enjoyment than candy, too. You can get more ideas by visiting your local dollar store, discount store, or party store/aisle.
- Jewelry (glow and light-up is especially popular, as are Halloween-themed items)
- Glow sticks
- Pencils, pens, pencil toppers, and erasers
- Small activity pads, coloring books, or drawing pads
- Small toys like balls
- Lip balm
- Small games
- Small puzzles
- Fake tattoos
- Halloween-themed toys like fake mustaches
Keep These Tooth Tricks In Mind
No matter what your kids eat this Halloween (and all the days and weeks that follow), keep in mind these smile-saving tips:
- Make sure your kids brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes each time.
- Floss daily – don’t miss those crevices where candy and treats get stuck!
- Rinse with water after eating any sweet or treat.
- Limit the number or time that the treats can be eaten. Keep the bag up at night for younger kids.
- Get rid of the candy or donate it after so long.
- Trade your kids the “bad” candy for some better treats or non-edible treats.
- Start talking about dental health and food choices now. Instilling good habits is key to getting kids to think about their decisions and understanding why you’ve set limits on certain sweets.
We love the Mouth Monsters from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. These little creatures can help your kids understand the importance of good dental health in a fun way. Before Halloween, print off their coloring pages so your kids can let their creative side show at the same time! Put their masterpieces on the fridge as a reminder.
Weddell Dental is here to help you protect your kids’ oral health. These ideas for healthy Halloween treats are just one way we can do that. For post-Halloween cleanings and more nutritional tips, call us at 952-679-1365 today or contact us online. And of course – enjoy your Halloween!