Updated: Nov 9
In addition to candy's unofficial holiday - Halloween, October is also National Dental Hygiene Month. So trick-or-treating is a perfect time to be watching out for Mouth Monsters looking to cause tooth decay in all those little mouths. Cava-Teena, Dracteria, Plaxus, Gum Denise and Ginger-Vitus are lurking in every bag and bucket just looking for a chance to attack. But here are a few tips that will help teach your children good dental hygiene while not depriving them.
Let Them Indulge – a Little. I know this may sound contradictory to everything you have been told, but rationing candy over months is more damaging, from a dental health standpoint, than to indulge for a few days and then placing the bucket somewhere to be forgotten, in fact, it will likely lead to less candy being consumed overall. The problem lies in eating sugary treats over an extended amount of time. This is actually more harmful to your teeth than a one-time binge. Bacteria in our mouths break down the sugar into acid that weakens tooth enamel, the constant exposure to acid results in a higher risk of cavities. Obviously, a stomachache on Halloween is never a good idea, but allowing your little Ghoulies a tiny candy indulgence that night may fend off an incessant attack from the Mouth Monsters for months to come.
What to do with the rest?
Once kids have gotten their fill, you will be astonished how quickly they forget about the rest. Pick a place to store your child’s candy that is out of reach to prevent overconsumption and/or late night snacking or freeze it for a surprise treat in a few months. An even better idea would be to donate or find a Halloween candy giveback program.
Think Outside the Candy Box! For those of us planning to hand out treats, think before you spend your money on that bag of cavity inviting, Monster Mouth bait. There are all sorts of other non-food, inexpensive, cavity free treats such as stickers, quarters, bubbles, pencils, glow sticks or silly putty.
Halloween is a fun and exciting time for kids, and can be for parents as well. You and your kids can enjoy the added goodies that come with the festivities without inviting the Mouth Monsters. It is just a matter of being safe, thoughtful and consuming in moderation. For more information about oral health, visit our website at https://www.nchd.org/oralhealth and happy Halloween everyone!