Most people might think that Halloween is a pediatric dentist’s nightmare, but that is not necessarily the case. “I know that kids are going to eat candy–and probably lots of it–at this time of year,” said Dr. Cate Quas. “The real trick is to not let the treats get the upper hand.” Dr. Cate (and the American Dental Association) recommend a few simple tips for parents to consider as Halloween draws near:
1. Make sure your child eats a full meal before heading out to trick or treat. A full belly may reduce the amount of candy consumed as the evening progresses. And try to eat candy and other sugary foods with meals in the days following Halloween as well. During meals saliva production is increased, which helps to neutralize acids and rinse away food particles.
2. Try to avoid hard candies and other treats that take a long time to dissolve in the mouth. The longer the sweet stuff is in your mouth the longer your teeth are exposed to the acids that increase your risk for tooth decay.
3. Stay away from the sticky stuff. Gummy bears, taffy and other sticky candy cling to teeth and take longer to get washed away by saliva, and can increase your risk for developing cavities.
4. Drink lots of water.
Dr. Cate also advises monitoring your child’s access to candy. “Don’t let your kids stash their candy under their bed,” said Dr. Cate. “It’s actually better for your teeth to eat the sweet stuff all at once versus over a long period of time.”
Wondering what kind of candy a pediatric dentist recommends handing out to trick-or-treaters? “Chocolate,” said Dr. Cate. “It dissolves quickly and doesn’t stick to teeth.”
By following these few simple tricks, parents can help their kids enjoy their treats without worrying too much about scary cavities.