Updated: Nov 9
October is the time for crisp chilly mornings, falling leaves, costumes and Halloween! But a child’s dream of piles of candy can be a parent’s worst nightmare for their teeth. However, remember that not all sweet treats affect teeth in the same way and there are some the Mouth Monsters like better. But denying kids their favorite treat may lead to unhealthy eating when they are older. Therefore, even those candies to be avoided as a regular snack, should be allowed in moderation. And there are ways to discourage an attack of these harmful creatures. Here are a few.
Sort The Candy Hoard
After a night of candy collecting, the first thing kids love to do is dump out their stash and start sorting. This year, before they get started, have kids separate their favorite treats by further sorting them by these categories to help them have a good understanding of what foods invite an attack from the Mouth Monsters:
Avoid – Candies that Mouth Monsters love include chewy, sticky candies such as gummies and caramels that stick to the grooves in teeth and should be eaten sparingly. Attaching to teeth makes it hard for saliva to wash away, leading to tooth decay. Additionally, sour candies have a high acidity content that can break down tooth enamel and are also susceptible to a Mouth Monster invasion.
Better – Better choices include snack-size milk chocolate and packets of pretzels or crackers. But even these can invite the Mouth Monsters if eaten over long periods of time, because good dental health depends less on what is eaten and more on how often it is eaten.
Best – Ideally, to keep the Mouth Monsters away entirely, the best options for a sweet treat include sugar-free gum and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can inhibit bacteria from sticking to teeth, preventing both gum disease and tooth decay.
H2O Straightaway Keeps the Monsters Away!
Drinking water discourages Mouth Monsters from latching onto those tiny teeth while consuming foods with high sugar and starch content. So it’s a great idea to wash down all that chocolaty goodness with a big bottle of H2O. Swishing it around in your mouth will further help dislodge particles that can get stuck.
An alternative way to increase saliva flow, wash out foods from between teeth and neutralize acid produced by bacteria that causes cavities, is to chew a sugar-free gum for 20 minutes. Sugar-free gum made with xylitol also promotes the growth of a tooth-protective, non-acidic bacteria which can make it difficult for bad bacteria and plaque to form.
Be Sure to Brush! As expected, the best lesson to teach your children, and stop the Mouth Monsters, is to floss and brush after consuming all that Halloween candy. A normal and frequent dental routine creates a “tooth smart” habit for years ahead. Overexposure to fluoride can be a concern with these extra brushing sessions if your very young child does not spit out the toothpaste, but if in doubt have them brush with just water or a fluoride-free toothpaste. Make brushing fun so they don’t resist brushing. One idea is to have them pick out a new Halloween toothbrush so they are excited about brushing! Another important aspect of encouraging kids to maintain their normal dental routine is by scheduling regular dental checkups to examine and clean their teeth.
Halloween is all about tasty treats and fun. So enjoy yourself and use these helpful hints to make it a little healthier and to teach your kids some good, lifelong dental hygiene habits.