Halloween is approaching and we all know the sugar in the treats our kids get are bad for their teeth (and ours as adults). But do we really consider why that is? It’s a good idea to understand why sugar is so bad for your teeth and can decay them. Basically, when bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is the unwanted culprit that can contribute to the development of cavities.
It’s alright to enjoy candy once in a while (like on Halloween) as a treat, as long as you and your children brush your teeth diligently and thoroughly at least twice a day. You and your kids should also floss your pearly whites at least once a day, all throughout the year. If your child feels any pain in their mouth around Halloween, you should consult with their dentist.
Worst Halloween Candy for your Teeth
Sticky and Chewy Candies
Pay close attention to sticky candies (including caramel) and beware of them! They are some of the absolute worst candies for your teeth. Sticky candy is much harder to remove from your teeth than candy that isn’t sticky and it might stay on your teeth a lot longer. This can give the cavity-causing bacteria discussed above more time to contribute to cavities. Chewy candies, including gummy candies and taffy stick around in your mouth, giving them time to cause tooth decay. Some are even sticky enough to pull out a filling, bridge, or braces. Brush and floss immediately after consuming them if you do.
Hard candies are also some of the worst candies for your teeth. You need to be extra careful with all types of hard candies as they can actually break your teeth. Also, since you will likely keep hard candies in your mouth for longer periods of time compared to chewy candy, the sugar gets into your saliva and coats your teeth. Hard candy can lead to problems that can be hard to fix!
Sour candies are double trouble because not only do they contain a lot of sugar, they also tend to be quite acidic. The acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer layer of your teeth, which can make your teeth more vulnerable to the development of cavities.
Caramel Corn or Candy Coated Popcorn
The kernels (or pieces of kernel) in candy coated popcorn can often get stuck in between your teeth, so it’s a good idea to floss your teeth after consuming this sugary treat. Also, the layers of sugar on this popcorn can make this candy hard, which can lead to the same problems that other hard candies can cause—possibly a broken tooth and sugar in your saliva, which can coat your teeth and contribute to cavities.
When it comes to oral hygiene, chocolate is the least serious offender. Chocolate dissipates fairly quickly with saliva. Since it doesn’t linger on your teeth for very long, it doesn’t pose as much of a risk for tooth decay as other candies. Chocolates still contain a lot of sugar and therefore, should be consumed in moderation.
Healthy Alternatives to Hand out this Halloween 2018
Mini Granola Bars
If you’re going to hand these out for Halloween, you can buy them individually packaged. Different brands offer granola bars made of different ingredients, so choose those with less sugar. You can make these for your children for school lunches and thus control the amount of sugar yourself. After all, homemade is best made!
Bagged Mini Pretzels
A salty substitution to excessively sugary treats, mini pretzels are a crunchy treat kids love. You can buy these in boxes of 30-40 or more, depending on the brand. Parents will thank you for it and won’t feel bad about tossing a pack into their child’s lunchbox! Another similar option is prepackaged mini goldfish snacks for the younger kids.
Mini Bags of Popcorn
Although brushing teeth after consuming popcorn is just as important as doing so after eating candy, popcorn is another alternative to sugary treats. You can even purchase varieties that are non-gmo or organic. This makes another crunchy snack for the lunchbox.
A better alternative to traditional fruit roll ups made of added sugar, choose fruit leathers that are made from real fruit without added sugar. Kids still need to brush after eating these as they can be fairly sticky and do contain naturally occurring sugar.
Similar to fruit leathers, there are organic varieties of these and they are bite sized, so there is an opportunity for parents to portion control them better.
Yogurt Covered Raisins
Although these are chewy snacks that still require brushing and flossing, kids will be receiving the benefits of real fruit with this snack.
Just like with raisins, kids get the benefits of eating real dried cranberries (fruit). Again, they will need to brush and floss as these can also stick to teeth.
An apple a day still keeps the doctor away! The truer, richer in fiber fruits and vegetables that your child consumes instead of candy, the better. There are so many wonderful colours and varieties to choose from. Even if your child says no, slice one up anyway and just leave it on the table for the taking. Fruit will always be nature’s candy.
If you or your child needs a check-up after Halloween, Dr. Pedvis at Mackenzie Dental can help! With state-of-the-art technology and excellent support staff, Mackenzie Dental Centre offers a variety of services all across the City of Vaughan for the whole family. For example, the clinic offers crowns, bridges, invisalign and much more for children and adults. The clinic also offers cosmetic dentistry and dental implants. In addition, they offer emergency dental services as well. Dr. Pedvis makes sure children always feel comfortable during dentist visits.