The team here at Highlands Ranch Smiles is always excited to celebrate the upcoming holiday! This month, we’re thrilled about Halloween. Of course, we’re mindful about sugar consumption – after all, that’s what the holiday is about aside from dressing up! We don’t think it’s reasonable to ban candy – we enjoy sweets from time to time ourselves. But we do have some tips on healthy Halloween treats to share with you today.
Avoid These Tricks – They’re Not Treats!
As you know, excess sugar isn’t great for smiles, especially for kids, whose tooth enamel is still developing. Sugar builds up on teeth, in between teeth, and on gums, and it doesn’t take too long for bacteria to feed on it and create acid. That acid eats through enamel. This process is why we talk to families about foods to watch out for, which is a bigger concern when your kids come home with pounds and pounds of candy!
If you’re buying candy for trick-or-treaters or sorting through your kids’ hoards on Halloween night, you may want to say no to these tooth tricks. After all, cavities are no treat – and neither is a dental emergency that can be caused by them! (You might be surprised by how many emergencies we’ve treated from these!)
- Chewy candy, like chewy fruit-flavored candy
- Sticky candy, like gum and caramel
- Hard candy, like jawbreakers
- Acidic candy, like sour gummies
As you might imagine, candy that’s both sticky and acidic is a double whammy! The sugar and acid combined speeds up the process of eating through enamel. It’s hard to get out of all the nooks and crannies of teeth even with brushing and flossing, especially back teeth where it gets stuck. And kids aren’t always the best at properly cleaning their teeth. Knowing all that, it’s usually best for them to stay away from these altogether. If that’s not possible, try these steps:
- Limit these treats to once a day.
- Eventually get them out of the house.
- Have your kids rinse their mouths afterward.
- Make sure your kids brush that night for at least two minutes on all sides and floss too.
- Ask us about a home fluoride rinse.
Think Moderation With These Treats
Obviously, sweets with less sugar and less acid are a better option. Although some Halloween treat alternatives can include a lot of carbohydrates that can get stuck in teeth, they’re still better since they won’t have all the sugar.
Here are a few of those treats you can feel better about letting your kids eat and better about handing out:
- Individual bags of pretzels
- Individual packs of crackers, like Goldfish
- Individual bags of fat-free popcorn (watch for kernels)
- Individual bags of trail mix (of course, with any nut products, watch for allergies)
- Snack packs of multigrain chips
- 100% juice boxes
- Raisins and dried cranberries
- 100% real fruit leather
- Yogurt-covered raisins and nuts
- Chocolate-covered raisins and nuts
- Milk chocolate candy
- Chocolate peanut butter cups
Indulge In These Tasty & Fun Treats
You might have been wondering by this point if there’s anything at all that you don’t have to worry about! The answer is yes. Here are a few treats we’ve shared with our patients before or bought for our own trick-or-treaters:
- Small apples
- Dark chocolate
- Sugarless gum (bonus if the sweetener is tooth-friendly xylitol)
- Individual bags of nuts (again, no allergies)
- Individual peanut butter packs
We’ve also encouraged people to give out treats that aren’t food at all. Here are some of those non-candy Halloween treats:
- Halloween tattoos
- Halloween pencils
- Halloween erasers and pencil toppers
- Activity pads or small drawing pads
- Mini puzzles
- Mini games and card games
- Small toys like airplanes and bouncy balls (older kids)
- Jewelry (boys and girls loves glow and light-up jewelry and spider rings)
- Glow sticks
- Crayons, crayon pens, colored pencils, and markers
- Mini Play-Dohs
There are so many options! Just visit a local dollar store or discount store for ideas. Kids love little treasures like these too, so pick well, and they’ll get more enjoyment out of them than candy anyway.
We’re Here For Your Family’s Oral Tips & Tricks
No matter what your family enjoys this Halloween, we hope you enjoy it together! We’re also here to give you tips you need for oral health, like rinsing, brushing, and flossing after eating sweets and visiting us twice a year for checkups to get off that stubborn cavity-causing plaque. Talking to your kids now, especially young ones, can get them thinking about their choices. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offers a fun way to help your kids learn about their oral health for Halloween. Your kids will love the cute coloring sheets that show characters related to their teeth.
Remember, too: If you’re looking to get rid of your candy, we offer candy buybacks. Bring it in, and we’ll offer you a price per pound of candy. It’s a good way to keep your smiles in shape and give to a good cause: Operation Gratitude, which supports our troops.