It’s only September, but Halloween season is already upon us. And between now and October 31st, over 600 lbs of candy will be purchased in the US. It’s only a matter of time before some of this sugar makes its way to you.
Whether you have kids or not, Halloween is the season for sugar consumption. Over the next month, there will be easy access to candy.
People will start bringing candy to the work place. You’ll purchase candy for Halloween…only to start sampling it before the trick-or-treaters arrive. And when Halloween does finally arrive, the average kid will wind up consuming about 675 grams of sugar, on just that day – picture eating 170 sugar cubes.
When you think you’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel, the post-Halloween candy tsunami hits, bringing the left-over household candy back to the workplace, or leaving you with a bags of stashed candy in your house – another round of temptation to deal with.
One way or another, the sugar is coming, but will you be prepared? Most likely you’re not going to be able to, or willing, to stop the sugar train from hitting. And since most of us (kids and adults) can’t beat the treats, we can at least be somewhat mindful about eating them, and protecting our dental health.
Here are 5 Tricks for handling the treats, and protecting your teeth, and your dental health this Halloween season.
- Not All Candies are Equal – Some Cause More Dental Harm than Others – When it comes to your oral health, there’s actually some candy that is better for your teeth (or at least causes less damage) than others. The stickier the candy, the higher the risk of tooth decay. Sticky Candies like gummy bears, Tootsie rolls, Snickers and Skittles take more time to chew and can also stick to, and between, your teeth. The longer candy stays in your mouth, before it’s washed away by saliva, the easier it is for the candy’s bacteria causing sugars to cause tooth decay and cavities. Sticky candies can also wreak havoc on your fillings and crowns. Then there are Sour Candies, like Sour Patch Kids, which are so acidic that they can actually dissolve tooth enamel directly on contact! Hard Candies like lollypops or Jolly Ranchers, offer a double whammy. Because hard candies sit in your mouth for a longer period of time, the sugars linger, creating more cavity causing bacteria to build up in your mouth. These candies also can crack, and break, your sweet tooth. When it comes to the treats, chocolate is still better for your teeth, because it’s not as sticky, and it dissolves faster. And while dark chocolate is the best, because it has tooth decay fighting antioxidants, most kids won’t touch it.
- Get a Fluoride Treatment Boost – Kids, whose permanent teeth have not yet developed, can definitely benefit from a little extra fluoride. Including a fluoride treatment that’s applied directly to your child’s teeth every six months, as part of their teeth cleanings and dental check-ups. These treatments can help provide a little extra protection from tooth decay and cavities. And a little extra fluoride can benefit certain adults, as well, especially if they have a higher risk for cavities. If you know you can’t curb your sweet tooth during the Halloween season, and you have a track record for getting cavities, a fluoride treatment, or mouth rinse, may help you keep your teeth cavity free during the sugar season.
- Eat Candy around Your Meal Times – Instead of binge eating the candy at random times, include some of your treats with meals, like desert. You can also wash away some of the lingering sugars in your mouth by eating an apple after candy, or drinking some water, and swishing it around.
- Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush – If you know that you’ll be heading into a Halloween treat filled environment at your work, pack a tooth brush with you. The sooner you can brush your teeth after eating candy, the better. And if you have kids, get them motivated to brush their teeth after they eat candy with a Halloween themed toothbrush.
- Set Up a Time to Eat Sweets – The treats aren’t going anywhere, so have a set “snack” time when some of the Halloween candy can be enjoyed, instead of snacking on it throughout the day. Let your kids pick one, or two, pieces of candy from their Halloween loot. Having a designated treat time will help reduce the amount of bacteria building sugars that stay in your mouth throughout the day, so your super-hero saliva will have a better chance to neutralize the bacteria.
Halloween is the season that brings out the inner kid in all of us. And it’s the time of year when it’s going to be practically impossible for most of us to stay away from the treats. Rather than forgoing the sweets, just try to incorporate some of these tips over the next few weeks to protect your teeth. And Happy Halloween!
P.S. And if you need a tooth fixed, or your teeth cleaned, or a fluoride treatment during, or after, the Halloween mayhem, just reach out to us! Your friendly Burien dentist is always here for you!