Candies, chips and gum – oh my! Although your little monster should enjoy the full Halloween experience, with each cute costume and fun event comes pail after pail of sweets. From cupcakes in class to a pile of candy after a night of trick-or-treating, just the sight of so much sugar is enough to give you a toothache.
Before you put the kibosh on all treats (or resign yourself to the day-long sugar high at the end of the month), you should know that not all candy is created equal. Items like candy teeth and gummies, which stay in contact with your child's mouth for more than a few seconds, should be some of the candy you toss in favor of treats that are less damaging. Here's how to enjoy a healthier holiday by sifting through your child's treat bag to separate the bad from the safe-in-moderation.
1. Choose the Right Candy
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the best types of treats are those that dissolve easily and don't produce residue that sticks to the teeth's enamel. Unfortunately, some Halloween candy is actually designed to stay in the mouth. Treats like candy teeth, gummy worms and hard sucking candies are especially bad for little ghouls and boys because they cling to teeth and provide sugars for bacteria to feed on; this can potentially lead to tooth decay. Instead, skip the sticky products and let your kids nosh on chocolate or other classic candies that disintegrate quickly.
2. Find a Candy Buy-Back Program
Rather than fighting with your child to ditch the gummies, wax lips and other indulgences, see if your dentist offers a buy-back program. Some dentists (and other health-conscious businesses) offer as much as $1 per pound of candy, and the treats are then distributed to worthy causes. Trading candy for enough cash to buy a small toy, for example, might be incentive enough for your child to forget about the annual candy teeth and accept a more lasting reward.
3. Binge, Don't Graze
Whatever you have planned for the holiday, Halloween can be a morning-to-evening treat extravaganza. Cupcakes, marshmallows, chips, pretzels and candy rule the day, but letting your child graze from sun-up to sundown means letting his or her teeth bathe in sugars and acidic ingredients. Instead, adopt a "binge" mentality for Halloween: Condense these expected treats to one short feast at night, and only if your little one can brush away the evidence before bed.
4. Opt for Healthy Treats
It can be hard to entice your child to choose healthy treats over sugary ones, but he or she will happily to forget the gummy favorites if you make healthy snacks more attractive. You can cut Jack-o-lantern faces into clementines, or make frozen banana halves into friendly ghosts with chocolate chip eyes and mouths. Or, go food-free altogether and hand out stickers, glow sticks or temporary tattoos to support a cavity-free Halloween in your neighborhood.
5. Don't Forget to Brush
In all the toil and trouble of a crazy Halloween, make sure your family remembers to maintain its oral hygiene routine. Kids should brush morning and night for at least two minutes, using a gentle but effective toothpaste such as Colgate® Monster High™ Mild Bubble Fruit®.
Some candy is admittedly better than others with respect to your oral health, but any treat high in sugar can be a breeding ground for mouth bacteria. Let your child enjoy the Halloween festivities – just make sure he or she takes care of their fangs in the process – or you could be in for a dental fright later on!