It’s hard to believe that Halloween is just around the corner, but the cooler temps and changing leaves are beginning to get us in the mood! Of course, 2020 puts a new spin on everything, with safety as a priority. In fact, this week Governor Asa Hutchinson has outlined some basic guidelines from the Arkansas Department of Health for Arkansans celebrating Halloween.
Many families are seeking alternative ways of celebrating the holiday, such as setting up an outdoor spooky movie night, a family scavenger hunt for candy, baking special Halloween treats, decorating your house or front door, or family pumpkin carving and decorating. (For more ideas on getting creative, read 6 Clever Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating This Year at the Food Network website, or 15 Fun Social-Distanced Halloween Activities for a Sweet and Safe Celebration from Parents.com).
But regardless of how you intend to celebrate the holiday, there is no doubt that candy and sweets will still most likely be a part of the celebration, especially if you have children. If you’ve got small mouths in the household, you know the struggle is real to avoid threats to their dental health during Halloween. (And who are we kidding? Adults love the treats too!) We’re not suggesting you forgo treats, but rather plan on ways to reduce the threat to your dental health.
Bacteria in your mouth loves to eat sugar, and that bacteria produces an acid after eating it, which can contribute to cavities. But as long as it’s not a year-round habit, sugary treats don’t have to derail your dental health plan. Here are some simple tips to follow to take care of your chompers:
- TIMING IS EVERYTHING:
The best time to consume sugary treats is either with a meal, or right after. Your body produces more saliva during mealtime, so will help to wash away food particles, and cancel out some of the acids caused by bacteria.
- LIMIT SWEET SNACKS:
Since your child will be eating Halloween candy, make sure and limit other snacks they may eat during the day that contain sugar. You can set limits on how much candy they can eat, and when, and then limit their intake of sugar throughout the rest of their day. This includes soda, juices, sports drinks, etc.
- FILL ‘EM UP!
Your child may seem like a bottomless pit when it comes to candy, but if they are eating nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day, they will have fewer cravings for sugary treats. It’s easier to set limits on how much candy they can have when they (or you) start with a full belly. Also, make sure they’re drinking plenty of water, especially after snacks.
- CHOOSE WISELY:
Not all candy was created equal, and there are some types that are better for your child’s teeth than others. The worst offenders are sticky and gummy snacks, hard candy, and sour candy.
If anyone in your household wears braces, the risk can be even worse. In fact, October is National Orthodontic Health Month. For those in orthodontics, here are some quick guidelines to help you make good choices:
- Stay away from hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy candy and snacks, including caramel, gummies, licorice, taffy, bubblegum (even the sugarless kind), jelly beans, etc.
- Avoid hard treats, such hard-shelled peanut candies, nuts or nut-filled candies, tortilla chips, and popcorn (especially unpopped kernels).
- Instead of the treats mentioned above, choose soft chocolates, peanut butter cups, or other melt-in-your-mouth candies.
- And of course, brushing and flossing are more important than ever during the Halloween season, so be extra vigilant after consuming sugary snacks.
The BEST candy to eat? CHOCOLATE! Not only is it the most popular type of Halloween candy, it also washes off of the teeth faster than other types. And extra points for choosing dark chocolate, as it contains less sugar than milk chocolate.
So stay safe, take care of yourselves, and HALLOWEEN ON!