As we approach the end of October, ‘tis the season to be visited by ghosts, vampires, pirates and other peculiar characters. Scary though they might be, the villain to watch out for is the treats- Halloween can be one of the worst holidays for your child’s teeth. For those of us keeping an eye on oral health, the spooky holiday calls for a warning list of some of the best and worst treats coming soon to your children’s Halloween stash.
We broke down common Halloween treats into two categories, worst and best. If you still haven’t selected what you’ll be handing out for Halloween, these lists should help you decide.
Worst Halloween treats
- When it comes to treats that give dentists a scare, chewy or sticky candy is at the top of the list. Not only are these treats high in sugar, but they also get stuck to teeth and gums and are difficult for your saliva to remove. The longer these treats stick to your teeth, the more time bacteria have to feed on it.
- Sour candy is extremely acidic, which can break down tooth enamel rapidly. Warning: if your child brushes too soon after they eat one of these treats then can also do additional damage to the tooth surface, since they temporarily weaken tooth enamel.
- Hard candies are a no-win treat. Even if you resist the urge to bite down on them- which can cause chips or breaks- they take a long time to dissolve as you suck on them. The longer these hard candies are in your mouth, the more acidic your mouth becomes.
“Best” Halloween treats*
*Relative to those in the “worst” list
- Chocolate without the sticky fillings is both eaten pretty quickly and dissolved quickly. Dark chocolate is the better option, since it contains antioxidants and may even be good for the heart.
- Sugar-free candy, especially hard candy, is a great option for several reasons. It not only reduces acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, but it also increases saliva production which prevents dry mouth as well as rinses away excess sugar or acid.
- Sugar-free gum is one of the best Halloween treats you can give trick-or-treaters. As we told you in our Friendly Foods for your Mouth blog, not only does it increase saliva production and wash away acids, but also strengthens tooth enamel, dislodges food particles, and helps prevent tooth decay. Select a sugarless gum that includes Xylitol, which is an active, natural sweetener that helps neutralize pH levels in your mouth.
Feel free to share this blog post with other parents you know. We hope you enjoy Halloween, and if you have other ideas you’d like to include in our list, be sure to let us know on our Facebook page!