Halloween is just around the corner. As is the case with any holiday, food is high on the priority list for many that take part in this spooky celebration. Where Halloween differs, however, is that most of the food that makes Halloween so enticing is laden with sugar and is often in the form of good, old-fashioned candy. While there is nothing wrong with indulging in candy from time to time, assuming you follow a healthy dental routine throughout the year, it is always wise to plan accordingly. Here are five essential dental tips to follow for a mouth-healthy Halloween:
1. Sticky = Spooky
For dentists, sticky candy is spooky. It creates a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria to form. Because sticky candy typically lasts longer in the mouth and is more difficult to remove from the teeth, it has an ample amount of time to contribute to tooth decay. Unless candies like taffy or various “gummies” are absolutely essential to your version of a perfect Halloween, it is best to avoid them. The same idea applies to hard candy. Hard candy is typically sucked on, which means it is in the mouth longer and has more time to produce bacteria. Further, hard candy can crack teeth and no one wants a cracked tooth putting a damper on their Halloween fun.
2. Cut Out Added Sugar
Unless they do not enjoy sweets or cannot eat them for medical reasons, the majority of those who celebrate Halloween are going to indulge in a higher amount of sweet treats on Halloween than they would on an average day. Because there will be an increase in candy and/or dessert consumption, cut out added sugar where you can. Avoiding things like sugary drinks will help cut down the amount of added sugar that you consume over the holiday. Stick to drinking more water than you would typically drink in order to help with overall saliva production and to help the body digest the added calories more efficiently.
3. Eat Candy With Meals
No one will (or should) stop you or your child from having a piece of your favorite candy as soon as trick-or-treating comes to a close. With that being said, leave most of your candy consumption for when you are eating (or have just finished with) a meal. This not only helps you cut down on the amount of candy that you consume in one sitting; the increased saliva production that occurs during mealtime with help cut down the bacteria-produced acids that accumulate in the mouth when you eat a lot of sugar and will aid in rinsing away food particles stuck to the teeth.
4. Stock Up on Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes following a meal can help reduce tooth decay by increasing the mouth’s saliva flow. Carrying a few sticks in your purse or pocket during your Halloween celebrations can help rid your mouth of leftover candy residue and can help ward off a feverish sweet tooth.
5. Make a Plan
Have a plan in place for what you will do with all of the candy you and/or your children receive on Halloween. Ask your kids (and yourself) upfront what their (and your) favorite
candy is. Make a plan to save that candy and to donate the rest. Many dentists have candy take-back programs in place where they will trade candy for various goods of their choosing. If you cannot find a suitable place to donate your candy, consider looking up some recipes that incorporate the candy you have on hand. If it can be repurposed and put into or on cupcakes, cookies, etc., you can whip up a batch of fall treats for a local bake sale or for your coworkers.
Despite the stereotype, dentists do not hate Halloween. Halloween is a fun, family-friendly holiday that your dentist wants you to enjoy. As long as you regularly brush and floss twice a day, there is no reason to worry about one day out of the year. When partaking in Halloween candy, practicing the idea of “everything in moderation,” along with following the tips above, will do your spirit, your stomach, and your oral health some good.