Written for Dental1 by Allison Walker-Elders
In general, you should avoid sugary, sticky snacks. Even things like popcorn and apples can do a damaging number on your teeth. Those delicious snacks most popular during Halloween—caramel apples, toffee, lollipops, Tootsie Rolls—are a dentist’s nightmare (or paycheck). However, it’s hard to resist letting loose for this one day.
If you have kids who enjoy trick-or-treating, you know that Halloween means giant sacks of candy. Some parents attempt a healthier alternative, by passing out little snack-sized bags of pretzels or pieces of fruit. But if you and your children are careful about eating candy, there should be no reason to avoid the “good stuff” altogether.
Your Halloween Dental Plan
Eat a nutritious dinner
Be careful about candy--don't overindulge!
Avoid sticky or hard candies
Wash it down with a glass of milk--calcium!
Brush teeth and floss at the end of the night
First off, know what your kids can eat. Does your daughter have braces? Keep her away from the caramel. Anything hard and sticky can pull the wire out of the brackets, which will be painful and require a visit to the orthodontist’s. Similarly, crunchy snacks with peanuts can do a number on both baby teeth and metal mouths.
It’s a good idea to keep young children away from very hard candy, like Jawbreakers. Not only will they forget that they shouldn’t chew, it is easy to swallow too soon and choke on it. A cracked tooth is extremely painful, and very much a possibility for small milk teeth.
Brushing teeth after the event is, of course, a must. But one should be careful not to overbrush—cleaning your teeth too many times in a short period can damage the enamel, making it easier for food to get in to your teeth and create cavities. It’s a bad idea to brush your teeth before eating something, too, as your toothbrush will have eliminated many of the digestive enzymes carried in your saliva, leaving sugar to sit on your teeth in undigested form. In general, the best plan is to brush your teeth once: at the end of the night, after all sugary substances have been consumed.
Perhaps you can have the best of both worlds—healthy teeth and a happy Halloween.
Photo: Kevin Poh
Discuss in the Dental1 Forum!