Here at Merrimack Valley Dental Care, we love celebrating the holidays! That includes Halloween, even though some of our patients find it surprising that we don’t lecture them about not eating any candy. (Dentists and dental staff like candy every now and then, too!) Even so, we do have a few tips about the best Halloween candy for your teeth. Whether your kids are trick-or-treating or you’re handing out candy, keep these tips in mind.
Enjoy These Tooth-Friendly Treats
If you’re buying candy or helping your kids sort through their candy, look for options like dark chocolate and sugarless chewing gum. These are some of the best options because they’re low in sugar or sugar-free, so all that sugar doesn’t get stuck on their teeth or stay there until they brush their teeth again. Some other good options are prepackaged nuts (if your children aren’t allergic, of course), small apples, and individual peanut butter snacks.
Practice Moderation With These Tricky Treats
Some other healthy Halloween treats can be enjoyed in moderation. These include anything that isn’t overloaded with sugar or acid, like milk chocolate, chocolate covered nuts, peanut butter cups, yogurt covered raisins or nuts, peanut butter crackers, cheese crackers, multigrain chips (individually bagged), pretzels, fat-free snack size popcorn, mandarins, raisins and other dried fruit, fruit leather, and even small 100% juice boxes.
Although some of these options contain carbohydrates and sugars that can build up on teeth, they’re not as harmful as many other options. In fact, it’s likely your children eat many of these every day. Just make sure they brush and floss well before bedtime.
Avoid These Decay-Causing Treats
It’s nearly impossible for kids to throw out all their candy that doesn’t make the “dentist-approved” list. By talking to your children before Halloween about foods that are good and bad for their teeth, as well as discussing proper dental care, you can at least help them think about their choices. You might be surprised how many kids and even adults we see for dental emergencies due to candy. That’s a lot of pain, time, and money that could have been avoided.
For younger kids, if you can’t convince them to toss the bad treats, you may try limiting them to once a day and ensuring they rinse their mouth with water afterward and brush and floss properly at night.
Some of the treats on this list include:
- Hard candy, like jawbreakers (potentially could be renamed “tooth-breakers” or “tooth-crackers”!)
- Chewy candy, like gummies
- Sticky candy, like caramels
- Acidic candy and sour candy (look for citric acid or other acids listed in the ingredients)
- Gum containing sugar
Sticky, acidic candy is a double whammy. The acid and sugar both eat away at tooth enamel the longer they sit on teeth – a perfect scenario for creating cavities.
For young kids who do eat candy, you may consider talking about these treats in a fun way like the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does. Check out their tips and tricks for making Halloween healthier but still enjoyable. They even have cute coloring sheets that let your kids get creative while they learn about their oral health!
Look For Candy Alternatives
We’ve already mentioned several treats that aren’t candy, many of them falling under acceptable foods for your kids or trick-or-treaters. But goodies don’t have to come in the form of sugar! Here are a few non-candy Halloween treats to consider purchasing for your Halloween visitors this year:
- Jewelry (spider rings, light-up jewelry, and glow jewelry are favorites)
- Halloween pencils and erasers
- Halloween-themed tattoos
- Small toys like bouncy balls (not for the littlest kiddos though!)
- Mini Play-Doh
- Little puzzles and games
- Glow sticks
- Drawing pads
A lot of these can be purchased at dollar stores, so start looking now! You’ll probably run across several other knick-knacks and treats sure to please those little ghosts and witches expecting something special.
Choosing the best Halloween candy for your teeth should be a lot easier now! No matter what your kids eat on Halloween and the weeks that follow, a consistent, good oral health routine can keep cavities away. That includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting us for twice-yearly cleanings. For more help on what that looks like, call 603-718-3063 to talk to one of our friendly team members or to request your family checkups in Nashua, NH.