So, it’s Halloween, your kids have traversed the neighborhood 10 times over and arrived home with enough candy to turn the wickedest of witches into a sugar-frosted fairy godmother. Short of asking your spouse to create a distraction while you grab that sweet loot and flee, what is your plan for dealing with all this candy consumption while making sure your kids keep ALL their teeth?
Well, as we see it, when it comes to Halloween candy and your kids’ (okay and your) dental health, there are two ways you can go: either balance or binge. Let’s take a look at the merits of both.
Balance: sprinkle the sugar out bit by bit
First of all, it’s important to realize just how much candy we are talking about here. The fact is, Americans buy as much as 600 million pounds of candy each year for Halloween. That’s a lot of candy to choke down all at once, right? So maybe moderation is key?
Start a (totally legitimate) candy bank
Yeah, we know, it sounds a bit whacky, but hear us out. If your kid has an unholy amount of candy after the big night’s haul and isn’t willing to let you throw any of it away, you could consider setting up a candy bank that they can make a daily withdrawal from come November. At least in that way, you are able to stay in control of your child’s sugar consumption and ensure that they don’t overdo it by sneaking sugary snacks throughout the day and night.
Reach a candied compromise
Not all candy is created equal. Some pack a greater punch than others when it comes to causing cavities. What are the worst offenders, you ask? Caramels, hard candies, taffy, gummy bears, and lollipops top the list, as they stay in your child’s mouth for a longer period of time coating the teeth with sugar and increasing their risk of developing candy cavities. So what’s a better (or at least less objectionable) choice? In general, you should encourage your children to only eat candy that doesn’t stick to in their teeth and that they can swallow quickly, like chocolates. Of course, you could also have them indulge in more savory treats such as Halloween-themed crackers or pretzels. But even then, these “healthier” options still contain carbohydrates, that will eventually turn into tooth-threatening sugar.
Binge: one sweet day
Or maybe the trick to dealing with this treat overload is to just to have a one-time feeding frenzy and just get it over with, like ripping the Bandaid off all at once.
Give saliva a fighting chance
When you dole out the candy (during the day, the week, or the month), you are increasing the number of instances where your child’s teeth are literally bathed in sugar. That sugar then becomes a feast for bacteria, which creates enamel-eating acid, which then results in tooth decay and cavities.
Conversely, if you expose your child to just one sweets session (be it one candy bar or 100!), the corrosive acid will build up, but so will saliva that will neutralize that acid in about an hour. If you were to keep eating candy throughout the day, you would also be continually building up that acid, which would become too much for your saliva to tackle.
Brush it off
Here’s something else to consider when it comes to giving in to gorging. After the big candy fest, your child is more likely to have their feeding frenzy and then brush their teeth, washing away all that harmful sugar. However, if they grab a candy bar as a daily afternoon treat, let’s say, any sort of decent oral hygiene is probably not going to happen until hours later, giving that decay-causing bacteria plenty of time to do its worst.
So balance or binge, which is the better option for your child’s oral health this Halloween? Spoiler alert, most dentists would pick eating candy all at once rather than spreading it out over time. And yes, the physical effects of a candy binge can be seriously detrimental to your gut, heart, blood, and immune system. But if we are talking strictly about your kids’ teeth, then that one-time exposure to candy (As scary as it sounds), is kid’s stuff compared to subjecting your teeth to the constant assault of sugar and the detrimental decay it can cause. And that is the stuff of nightmares!
Want more information on how to prevent cavities in children? Why not book an appointment with a local dentist through Dentistry.com?