So… is Halloween and all the candy that comes with it a pediatric dentist’s worst nightmare or job security!? Believe it or not, we are most happy at ABC when at the end of a recare appointment we get to tell our patient, “Yay! You have NO CAVITIES!” Halloween candy can frighten us a little when it comes to trying to help prevent “sugar bugs” in our little patients’ choppers!
What is a parent to do? Trick-or-Treating is fun for the kids. Dressing up in a costume of their favorite character, be it Elsa or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and going door-to-door yelling out “Trick or Treat!” is anticipated all month long.
Here are a few tips:
1) Dr. A’s favorite: Let your child pick out a few of their very favorite piece of candy to eat. Then the “Switch Witch” can come while they’re asleep on Halloween night and switch out the rest of their bag of treats for a special toy they really want instead!
2) If your child can’t give up all their candy, help your kids sort the candy, putting the candy that is “worst” for the teeth into one pile and the “less bad” candy into another pile.
Candies that are especially bad for their teeth are those that are really sticky and stay on the teeth or in the mouth for a long time such as suckers, Starbursts, Skittles, caramels, Jolly Ranchers, Laffy Taffy and the like.
Candies that aren’t as sticky are still not great for the teeth but come off the teeth easier and more quickly. These may include chocolate, licorice, Smarties and similar “less sticky” candies.
For each of the “worst” sticky candies they sort off, trade them a nickel per piece of candy. Or you can trade a nickel for EVERY piece of candy they are willing to give up.
Especially if your child has any crowns or space maintainers in their mouth already, it is important for them to avoid sticky candies that may pull off their dental work.
3) Be in charge of your child’s candy and give it as an after-meal special treat (like dessert) verses letting your child munch on their candy all day long. Also, avoid letting your child eat candy at bedtime.
4) Help your child brush and floss their teeth after they eat candy using fluoridated toothpaste to help prevent the breakdown of their enamel from the sugar.
5) If toothbrushing is not possible after eating candy because you aren’t at home, at least have your child drink some water to help wash away the sugar, or offer SUGAR-FREE gum to help cleanse the teeth.
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