Can’t you just smell the pumpkin in the air? It’s the festive Fall season, and we’re already anticipating Halloween. A time of character fashion and fun, the Halloween season also comes with its own set of sweet treats: candy.
The time-honored tradition of trick-or-treating is set to make a resurgence this year as many people are venturing back out into the community after years of pandemic isolation. Increased candy consumption can easily lead to increased dental issues, so it helps to remember to protect kids’ teeth during this fun-filled holiday.
Dental experts remind us that not all candy is created equal. An occasional soft piece of chocolate probably won’t harm your oral health, but other types of candy can be more damaging. Hard candies look unassuming but can linger in the mouth, causing extended exposure to sugar. In addition, hard candies can make teeth prone to chipping or damage to the enamel. Sticky candies aren’t the best either, as the residue sticks to teeth for a lengthy time, attracting more bacteria and dental damage. For those with dental repairs or orthodontia, this can be especially troublesome.
One of the best options for a sweet treat is sugar-free chewing gum. Gum sweetened with xylitol can actually stimulate saliva, which helps reduce plaque acids and can contribute to better oral health. If you do opt for candy instead, however, remember to brush and floss after enjoying it, and remind kids to do the same.
Some people prefer to give healthy treats to kids who come to trick or treat. It’s a great idea to have some healthier options. Ideas for healthier food treats include cracker packages, tiny apples or oranges, or even snackable yogurt tubes. Fruit snacks or fruit leather offer a bit of a middle ground between high sugar and healthy as well.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is the answer for parents of kids with food allergies and anyone else worried about the ingredients in typical Halloween candy. You can avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes, and more by handing out toys and trinkets. In addition, adding yourself to the Teal Pumpkin list helps you be more inclusive of neighbors with food allergies or other conditions such as celiac disease. Ideas for non-food treats include party favors like spinning tops, stampers, Erasers, stickers, tiny cars, or action figures.
Protect kids’ teeth this Halloween by making smart choices and savvy switches. Prioritize healthier treats when possible like sugarless gum, fruit, or yogurt. Avoid the worst candies for oral health such as hard suckers and sticky taffy and switch to toys for those with food allergies.