One thing you can count on from our Lenexa team here at Pierce & Knight Family Dentistry is that we like to have fun and find reasons to celebrate! This time of year, we enjoy talking to our patients about their costumes and plans, making our own plans for trick-or-treating with our family, and decorating our houses so we can hand out treats. We’ve even been known to have Halloween contents!
Another thing you can count on is our concern for your family’s smiles. Since your kids or trick-or-treaters are about to come home with pounds of candy, we’d like to give you some ideas for healthy Halloween treats this year – and some you might consider steering clear of. So take a couple of minutes to read our tips. You’re always welcome to ask any questions about oral health and nutrition at your appointments, too.
These Tricky Treats Like To Lurk Around Teeth
It might be obvious why we tell patients to be careful with hard candy. You’d probably guess that it can do some damage to natural teeth as well as restorations like crowns and fillings. We’d love for you to enjoy Halloween without any dental emergencies, so skip these when you’re at the store deciding which candy to hand out, or limit your kids’ amount and caution them to eat with care.
Aside from the obvious, here are three other types of candy that might be even bigger culprits:
- Chewy treats
- Sticky treats
- Sour treats
Chewy and sticky candy, like caramels and gummies, stay on teeth and gums longer than other candy can. That means there’s more time for bacteria to use the sugar to produce acid. That acid slowly creeps into tooth enamel – a bad omen for little ones whose tooth enamel may be weaker than adult enamel. Kids aren’t great brushers or flossers, either, so that sticky sugary debris may stay on their teeth into the next day. Repeat this process daily for long enough, and tooth decay begins to form. The same goes for hard candy you suck on for a while.
Sour candy combines sugars and acids, both of which are bad when left on teeth. If the sour candy is chewy too, it’s even more frightening for teeth!
If possible, try to limit these candies, get rid of them altogether, or at least take a look at our tips and tricks in a minute.
These Sweets Aren’t So Scary
You do have some better options than sour, sticky candy that sits on teeth. Consider these sweets and treats that are a little better on tiny teeth and, in some cases, the body:
- Individually wrapped pretzels, natural crackers (cheese and peanut butter are favorites), and multigrain chips or tortilla chips
- Individually bagged popcorn (watch for kernels!)
- Citrus fruits, such as mandarins
- Fruit juice boxes (100% juice is best)
- Fruit leather
- Raisins and packs of dried fruit
- Chocolate-coated raisins and nuts
- Yogurt-coated raisins and nuts
- Milk chocolate (solid or with nuts or peanut butter are better options)
- Packs of trail mix
Although fruit contains acid and carb-based foods like crackers can get stuck in teeth, you’re still safer enjoying these than anything on our first list. (Of course, be cautious with any allergies like those to nuts.)
There’s Nothing Frightening About These Foods & Fun Alternatives
If you’re helping your kids sort through their massive bag of treats or just want to get some better options for trick-or-treaters or your kids’ classmates, consider these healthy Halloween treats:
- Apples (not too sour!)
- Snack bags of nuts like almonds
- Dark chocolate, which contains antioxidants that are good for the teeth and body
- Mini peanut butter packs
- Sugarless chewing gum, which is especially great when made with xylitol
But who says you have to buy any kind of food? These Halloween favorites will outlast any candy in the bag. Take your kids to a party store or dollar store and pick up some of these non-candy Halloween treasures instead:
- Glow sticks
- Glow or light-up jewelry
- Any other kind of jewelry and accessories
- Pencils, pens, erasers, pencil toppers
- Mini notebooks and activity books
- Toys like small balls, cars, and fake mustaches
- Temporary tattoos
- Magic grow capsules (animals grow under water!)
- Mini packs of clay or Play-Doh
- Any other arts and crafts
- Small games and puzzles
- Lip balm
Practice These Tricks & Tips For Cavity-Free Teeth
If you want to have your kids cut back on the less healthy options, it’s best to formulate a plan before Halloween. Little kids like a fun approach to learning about healthier options for their teeth. For example, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has kid-friendly “Mouth Monsters” coloring pages that provide an opportunity to learn and display their artwork!
To help prevent cavities, your kids should:
- Brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss once a day or when stubborn candy gets stuck
- Rinse with water after eating any sweets or carbs
- Limit how many sweets they eat a day
- Have a limit for the time frame they eat their sweets
- Consider trading the not-so-healthy candy for non-candy items or healthier items you’ve purchased
- Give away or set a time frame for when they’ll get rid of the less healthy options
Whether your kids eat just healthy Halloween treats or indulge a little this Halloween, we’re here for their smiles! Make sure to bring them in soon for their twice-yearly checkups. Call Pierce & Knight Family Dentistry at 913-251-9683 if you haven’t scheduled them yet. You can also fill out our online form instead. Happy Halloween!