Getting spooked about all the sugar your family will want to eat this Halloween? It’s normal to want your kids to enjoy this fun and exciting holiday but also to wonder if the Halloween candy they love so much might harm their dental health.
The good news is that it’s okay to let your kids enjoy their tricks AND treats on Halloween. Holidays, including Halloween, are for family, fun, and also food. Most experts agree that the occasional indulgence is okay, especially when it is limited to just one day.
It is still important to teach your children that, the majority of the time, sugar can be harmful and that a healthy diet is key to good dental and overall health. The impact of a healthy lifestyle and good daily dental habits will overcome the occasional splurge.
Health Effects of Sugar
More and more research has found that sugar can negatively impact our overall health over time. The average American man eats 384 calories of added sugar (that’s 24 teaspoons!) per day. The American Heart Association recommends 9 teaspoons, or 150 calories.
Excess sugar in our regular diet can cause weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Of course, we do not want this for our health or for our kids. So it is important to limit added sugar as a regular practice.
Sugar and Your Kids’ Teeth
In addition to all of that bad news, sugar causes tooth decay. Naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths feed on sugar, creating acids that eat away the enamel of our teeth. When that happens, you can get cavities and even gum disease.
Should You Let Your Children Have Halloween Candy?
Don’t worry. We are not saying you should say no to sweets entirely. In fact, some studies show that a complete ban on candy and other sweets can promote unhealthy future eating habits by making these foods even more desirable. In other worse, you tend to want what you can’t have.
Instead of banning any type of sweets and treats, you may want to consider the approach of moderation. In general, the occasional treat after a healthy meal is okay. Healthy eating habits over time will trump the less frequent indulgence.
For Halloween and other special occasions, it is all right to allow a little splurge, especially if you limit it to just one day. Permitting your kids to enjoy some extra candy on Halloween may serve to make it less tempting overall.
Make Good Choices
In addition to making healthy decisions around your family’s eating habits overall, you can even make some better choices on Halloween. Steer clear of chewy, crunchy, or hard treats. Gummies, hard candies, and chocolates with nuts are bad options because the sugar will stick to teeth longer, and the longer sugar sticks to teeth, the worst the damage.
Plain chocolate is actually a better choice because it dissolves more easily, melting away from the surface of the teeth. Plenty of water also helps as it can wash away some of the stuck-on sugar, as can sugarless gum (look for options with the ADA seal).
Prioritize Good Dental Habits
As always, good oral hygiene habits are an excellent way to minimize the damage from occasional treats. Make sure your kids brush their teeth for two minutes (set a timer) twice a day is essential. Make sure they do not eat anything (especially candy) after their nightly brushing routine.
The other best step you can do for your oral health is to get twice-a-year dental check-ups and cleanings. If it is time to schedule your family’s regular dentist appointment, call our office today.