Best and Worst Halloween Candy: Avoiding Scary Dental Decay

Halloween is the No. 1 holiday on the kid calendar. They get to dress up, go to parties and make a candy haul that can’t be challenged, even if you add Easter and Christmas together. With the Centers for Disease Control reporting that over 19 percent of children ages 2 to 19 have untreated cavities, Halloween drops down a few notches on parents’ lists. You probably do a stellar job of watching what the kids eat any other time of year. Sugar control goes out the window, however, when your child brings home a bottomless bag from a successful night of trick-or-treating.

Before the big night hits, educate yourself on which candy is capable of the most damage and which is easiest on teeth. Arm your little ones with some preventative items and then sit back knowing you’ve done as much as possible to protect their pearly whites.

Worst Candies

Sticky candy and long-lasting candies that take forever to dissolve in your kids’ mouths are the hardest on teeth. According to the American Dental Association these are:

  • hard candies
  • suckers and lollipops
  • taffy
  • gummy bears
  • caramels

These types stick to the teeth subjecting your kids to destructive acids for extended periods of time.

Best Candies

Sugar-free gum is the absolute best Halloween treat you can find in your child’s candy bucket. Encourage your kids to chew a piece after eating any of their other sugary booty. If you don’t consider gum to technically be candy, then others on the list include:

  • candy bars that don’t contain sticky caramel or nougat
  • chocolate covered nuts
  • candy corn
  • individually wrapped peanut butter cups

Not much of these candies remain in the mouth for very long, and what does gets washed away by saliva or with a swallow of water.

Treat Your Own Kids

Yes, it will bum out the neighborhood kids if you give out toothbrushes and travel-sized toothpaste for Halloween. There’s no law against doing it for your own kids, though, especially since they’ll get plenty of sugary treats elsewhere. WebMD says Halloween is the ideal time to change out your kids’ old toothbrushes for new ones, anyway. Assemble a Halloween treat bag for your children with a toothbrush and toothpaste, but also include a bottle of fluoridated water for sipping after a candy binge, dental floss and a packet of disclosing tablets to help them get in the habit of brushing more thoroughly. Slip in a few coloring sheets from Kool Smiles. The activity sheets along with a brand-new box of crayons are a sweet way to round out your dental health treat bag.

Reducing Chances of Halloween Damage

You don’t have to take Halloween — or the candy it brings — away from your kids just to ensure optimal oral health. That will only end up in tantrums and trauma. Instead, set a few rules and encourage already good habits. For example, specify when your kids can indulge in Halloween candy and how much they can have. It can be after school or right after a healthy dinner. Limit them to two or three pieces, and allow them to pick out what they’ll eat each day. Encourage them to drink water while they eat their treats and afterward, too. Hold your children to their regularly scheduled tooth brushing routine, and make sure they floss. You’ll want to help if your child is younger than 8 years old, but older children are capable of flossing on their own.

(Guest post Author: Kim is a freelance writer who covers health and fitness.)

Electric Toothbrush Giveaway- $160 Value {IL Residents Only}

Many parents don’t know that children should visit the dentist within six months of getting the first tooth – and no later than the first birthday. In fact, Illinois children don’t visit the dentist, on average, until they are 3 ½ years old.

A visit by age 1 allows you and your child to develop a relationship with a dentist, which can help set a foundation for good oral health and detect potential dental problems before they progress. Your little one could have pain in one of his or her teeth, but may be too young to tell you.

The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is kicking off “Dentist by 1”, a statewide public service campaign to educate parents about the benefits of taking their children to the dentist by age 1 and to encourage them to schedule a visit.

GIVEAWAY:

In conjunction with the campaign, the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is offering one of my readers an electric toothbrush ($160 value) to help promote good oral health! (Open to Illinois residents only)

MANDATORY ENTRY:

Leave a comment telling me about your child’s first trip to the dentist or something funny about their oral health care habits in the comments under this article.

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Pledge to take your kids to the dentist by age 1 or to regular visits at www.dentistby1.com and tell me in the comments below. When you pledge, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation will donate an oral health kit to a local, underprivileged child and will also send you a kit! (Kits include a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste and a children’s oral health tip sheet.)

2) “Like” Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) “Like” Delta Dental of Illinois on Facebook for more information about upcoming contests and tips on establishing good oral health habits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

This Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation “Dentist by 1” Electric Toothbrush giveaway begins today and ends on May 18, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. Illinois residents only

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)