In just a few short weeks, the evening streets will be filled with toddlers, young children, and parents all dressed up in spooky or charming costumes. Children will disguise themselves as Ant-Man, Bob the Minion, Baymax, Disney princesses, superheroes, ghosts, pirates, and soldiersand parents will dress to match. While parents supervise, little ones will travel from door to door and collect impressive amounts of delectable sweets.
When they return home to sort through their sugary treasures, kids want nothing more than to dive right in and eat as much candy as they can.
But with great amounts of Halloween candy comes great responsibility on a parent’s part. Moms and dads alike know how negatively too much sugar affects their children’s health-especially their oral health. Parents want their kids to enjoy this upcoming holiday, but they also want to preserve their children’s teeth and gums.
Read on to learn the best ways to protect children from a monster scarier than ghouls and goblins: candy-induced dental issues.
Set Up Halloween Rules
Before you take your kids through your neighborhood to trick-or-treat, you need a game plan. You’ll want to know where exactly to visit, how long you’ll be out, and who you’ll be with. This plan keeps you and your little ones safe during the festivities.
However, you should also establish candy-related Halloween rules, including:
- How much candy your kids are allowed to eat on Halloween
- How many pieces they can have each day after the holiday
- Where to store each child’s candy
- If and who your child should ask for a piece of candy
Don’t forget to discuss these guidelines with your children before you all venture down the street. Explain to your kids that too much candy makes them sick and hurts their teeth and that these rules will keep them healthy.
Inspect Candy Before Your Kids Eat It
As a parent, you’ve likely heard Halloween horror stories about candy laced with drugs or stuffed with needles or razor blades. While these tampered-with candies do harm your children’s gums, teeth, and tongue, they can have an even more devastating effect.
To safeguard your kids’ overall well-being, thoroughly inspect each piece of candy for hidden culprits. Especially look out for small tears or holes in candy wrappers, and feel around for any sharp or solid objects that don’t belong in softer candies.
Throw away any questionable sweets so your kids don’t try to eat them. If your children don’t understand why you have to toss out some of their treats, tell them that sometimes people use dangerous candy to try and hurt little kids. Also say that as you check for suspicious treats you keep your kids safe.
Don’t Forbid Your Children From Eating Candy
Think back to your childhood Halloweens. If your parents told you that you weren’t allowed to eat any of your candy, you likely found a way to sneak the sugary snacks without their seeing you. Your children will do the same if you forbid them from eating anything from their Halloween stash.
This well-intentioned tactic inadvertently causes a plethora of problems. For example, if your kids feel like they can’t eat candy at home, they’ll find a way to do so with friends or at school. They’ll likely consume more sugar in these situations than they would otherwise, and they could develop serious dental and health issues as a result.
Rather than deny your children sweet treats, offer confections in moderation. Create a candy bank for your kids. When they behave well or help you around the house, let them make a withdrawal. And make sure to set a maximum daily withdrawal amount so your children don’t eat too much sugar.
Let Your Kids Eat Sweets Just After Mealtimes
Experts from the American Dental Association (ADA) report that your mouth contains high levels of bacteria that produce acids. However, your mouth’s saliva production increases during mealtimes, and this liquid cancels out the acid bacteria create and clears away any food particles.
Dentists recommend that children eat sweets and sugary foods either during or just after meals since the increased saliva levels protect their mouths from damage.
Avoid Hard and Sticky Candies
Dental professionals also encourage their young patients to limit the amount of hard or sticky sweets they consume each day. Hard candies stay in your kids’ mouths for long periods of time, and sticky candies, such as gummy bears, tend to stick in between teeth. This exposure to sugar for an extended time frame increases your children’s risk for cavities.
To reduce the possibility for cavities and similar dental problems, offer your kids a healthier sweet alternative, such as dark chocolate.
As you plan your children’s Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating route, keep these tips in mind. Do what you can to preserve your kids’ oral health during this upcoming holiday. If you have any questions or concerns or would like further tips to protect your children’s teeth, consult with your family dentist.