BEWARE OF THE SUGAR BUGS!
It’s one of the most enjoyable times of the year for young ghouls, ghosts, and witches everywhere, but is there anything more frightening than ending up with kids cavities (or “sugar bugs”)?
While undeniably delicious, Halloween candy can negatively impact overall dental health by contributing to potential tooth decay and cavities. Consuming sugary candy increases the risk of dental problems such as enamel erosion and dental caries.
According to a survey by the American Dental Association, 76% of dentists see an increase in cavities and other dental issues after Halloween. Here are a few things to consider to help your little monsters avoid post-holiday sugar bugs!
A Healthy Halloween?
Healthier Halloween treats can help prevent kids cavities by reducing the amount of sugar we all consume around Halloween. While we can’t necessarily control which candy our tiny gremlins receive while “Trick-or-Treating,” we can offer to “swap out” candies for healthier alternatives at home or even “match” the amount of candy a kiddo gets with healthier alternatives.
Choosing healthier treats can help lower the risk of tooth decay and dental problems in patients of all ages. Providing healthier Halloween treats can encourage better eating habits and teach children about making healthful choices. Additionally, friends with dietary restrictions and allergies can feel more included when there are alternatives to treats they may not be able to eat.
Here are some of our favorite alternatives:
Sugar-free or low-sugar options
While not as popular as their sugary counterparts, sugar-free or low-sugar candies are great for keeping teeth healthier. Artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, avoid being broken down by bacteria in the mouth and causing cavities.
Dark chocolate – a healthier alternative
Are you a chocoholic? We get it. However, consider dark chocolate over milk chocolate when it comes time for a chocolate treat. Dark chocolate, which is at least 70% cocoa, contains the naturally occurring compounds polyphenol and flavonoid, which help to fight cavities and slow tooth decay. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants, which can help fight gum disease.
Non-candy options like stickers or small toys
Instead of handing out sugary candy, consider offering stickers or small dollar-store finds (popper fidget keychains or crayons) to your neighborhood tricksters. Stickers and small toys can outlast October 31 and can be added to kids’ toy collections for repeated use.
Promoting healthier choices during Halloween
We know that encouraging young princesses and superheroes to avoid candy can be daunting, but there are a few tried-and-true ways to promote healthier choices for your kids during Halloween and other holidays.
Limit the amount of candy consumed
One of the most popular ways to moderate kids’ sugar intake on Halloween is to agree beforehand on a set limit of candy eaten per day or week. You may also consider setting specific rules or guidelines for when candy can be eaten, such as after completing homework or chores. A fun way to approach this would be to implement a “candy bank” system where kids can “buy” or trade candy for non-food items.
Another way to limit overall consumption is to encourage kids to trade or donate excess candy. Teachers, for example, are always grateful to receive candy for classroom activities or incentives!
Create a fun and festive atmosphere with non-candy treats
Halloween isn’t only about treats! Encourage kids to appreciate the inedible aspects of this fun day by involving them in fun and festive activities. Decorate the house with pumpkins, spider webs, and ghosts, or organize a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt with non-candy treats as prizes.
Host a Halloween party with a costume contest, pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, or making spooky crafts to keep children entertained and distracted from the focus on candy.
Encourage regular brushing and flossing
Most importantly, encourage kids to keep up with their regular dental health routines during Halloween. Make brushing and flossing fun and engaging using colorful, flavored toothpaste and kid-friendly floss. Or hold a contest for who can brush their teeth for the longest time. Gamifying tooth brushing and flossing is a great way to engage the whole family in these healthy habits and avoid kids cavities.
Promoting dental health during Halloween doesn’t mean sacrificing fun! Brainstorming alternative activities or treats can be a great way to interact as a family.
To learn more about maintaining healthy teeth, schedule an appointment with our wonderful office of tooth fairies today!
Your dental impressions will be a breeze with iTero. We can’t wait to provide you with comfortable, accurate imaging and excellent dental care. Your oral health is essential; we’re here to make dental care more delightful. Book an appointment online or call us at 704.864.9949 to learn more about our intraoral scanner.