Halloween Candy vs. Cavities: Don’t Make Kids Choose
Halloween is once again almost upon us. For children, this means costumes, trick or treating, and of course lots of candy. As a parent who is concerned about the health of your children’s teeth, this can be a bit stressful. However, the worst thing you can do is deny them the experience of Halloween. Depriving a child the enjoyment of trick or treating will only make their desire for candy grow, as it is now considered a forbidden object. They may just find some candy at school from other children and sneak around you once they are out of your eyesight.
Instead, let them enjoy the entirety of the Halloween experience, because after all, kids are kids and these are experiences they will only get to have a few times. Here are a few things you can do to make this Halloween a fun learning experience.
Help Kids See What Candy is Bad for Teeth – Separate It Out
Whenever your child gets back with their sack of candy, go through it and discuss what kind candy is extremely bad for teeth and what kind of candy isn’t going to bother them too much. For instance, candy corn has a whopping 32 grams of sugar per serving, which is equivalent to 8 tablespoons!
Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth Are:
- Chewy Candies stick to your teeth for long periods of time triggering cavity causing acid to buildup: Laffy Taffy, Caramels, Milk Duds, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls and Gummies.
- Acidic Candies carries an erosive acid, and with the combined sugar, acidic candies deliver a double whammy to your teeth: Lemon Heads, Sour Patch Kids, and War Heads.
- Hard Candies allows sugar to sit on teeth for long periods of time, and may chip teeth: Jolly Ranchers, Jaw Breakers, Fire Balls, and Suckers.
Instead Try These Halloween Candies:
- Smarties or candy necklaces
- Mini Chocolate Bars – melts quickly so sugar isn’t sitting on teeth
- Sugar Free Candy – stimulates saliva production which helps protect teeth by flushing away bacteria
Let Kids Pick Out Good Candy to Keep
Now that they have had a learning experience, let them pick out 10 pieces of candy that they want the most. If they choose something that is not good for their teeth, let them have it anyway, but use it as an opportunity to teach them about moderation. Using this time as a moment to educate will help them pick up healthy habits that will follow them throughout the rest of their lives.
The Rest of the Halloween Candy
Now that they have picked out their allotted pieces of candy, it is time to make a decision on what to do with the rest of it. Once again, use this as an educational moment. You can give them the option to either freeze the candy for later or to donate it to another kid who might not be as fortunate as them. This reinforces the idea that candy is not necessarily a bad thing, but that they should enjoy it only in moderation. It can also teach them the value of charity and sharing. Finally, it teaches them about what cavities are and how what they eat affects not just their physical health, but their oral health as well.
If they choose to keep it, then it is up to you as a parent to decide when they can have it – optimal times include:
- As a Treat: Designate a time during the day where they are allowed to have a treat. This helps children fight the desire to snack on candy all day long, because they will know when “treat time” is.
- After Meal Time: This will help prevent tooth decay, as saliva flow is high in the mouth. This will help lessen tooth decay and will also help flush bacteria out of the mouth.
Keep Dental Hygiene Fun
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three or four months anyway, so why not make Halloween one of those occasions. Let them pick the brush they want while shopping for a costume, for instance. Children are more likely to want to brush if they like their toothbrush. The same goes for toothpaste. Make the experience fun so that they pick up good dental habits.
So what are some ways you have made your kid’s Halloween both fun and healthy? Share your comments below and let us know what you think!
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