While things may look different this year for Halloween, with restrictions on trick-or-treating, virtual Halloween contests, and most spooky events being canceled, we know one thing that isn’t going away-Halloween Candy.
Now, even though we are family dentists in Rexburg, we too, also like to enjoy a few pieces of candy during Halloween (and throughout the year), but we want to make sure that our patients have the knowledge of how to keep their family’s teeth healthy during this holiday while still having fun.
Here are three quick tips and strategies to ensure that your kids have the best Halloween this year and get to enjoy the treats that come along with it, without having to make an emergency dentist appointment because of a chipped tooth.
Continue reading to learn more about how to keep your kids’ smiles happy and healthy this Halloween. And if you do run into a scary emergency, don’t hesitate to contact Eagle Rock Dental Care at any of our locations in Rexburg, Idaho Falls, or Arco.
Risk Factors That Contribute To Tooth Decay
Do you find yourself getting frequent cavities even though you have impeccable oral hygiene? You do absolutely everything you can to prevent them but no such luck. Maybe it isn’t your fault at all. Even though there are many factors contributing to cavities that we can control, there are some that we cannot.
There are a few risk factors that I’m afraid we have no control over. You can try altering your diet and your hygiene routine, but if nothing seems to work maybe you belong in one of these following categories.
Younger kids are at a greater risk for cavities. Many people blame the children for not knowing how to properly care for their teeth. The truth is, as a child’s teeth develop they are not strong enough to protect themselves from all the acids and bacteria that enters our mouth.
Older age also presents a risk. As we age our gums recede leaving our teeth less protected. Root cavities become much more common as we age.
Saliva is very helpful in keeping our teeth protected. It helps wash away particles from our teeth and also can help neutralize acids. Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of medications or there could be a genetic factor. Either way, there isn’t much you can do to save your teeth from this condition.
As if gastroesophageal reflux disease wasn’t enough of a problem, it can take a serious toll on your teeth. With acidity frequently coming into the mouth your teeth will start to lose the protective enamel layer. Enamel protects your teeth from a lot, including cavities. With that protection compromised you are at a much greater risk for cavities.
Even though those with diabetes are typically very good at limiting the sugar in their diets, they have more of a risk for cavities. Diabetes causes your immune system to be weakened. Our immune systems help us to fight tooth decay. If your immune system is not functioning at its greatest strengths then you are likely to experience troubled teeth even with a great hygiene regimen.
Similarly to diabetes, certain respiratory diseases can weaken the immune system. But, there is another reason that respiratory disease can influence the health of your teeth. Those that suffer from these diseases often have to breathe through their mouth limiting the amount of saliva in the mouth. And like I said before, saliva is crucial to keep the teeth clean and protected between brushings.
If you are unlucky enough to fall into one of these categories, you may find yourself working extra hard to keep your teeth clear of cavities. While these circumstances are out of your control, there are still options for you to improve your oral health.
Minimize Damage By Removing Candy That Can Be Dangerous For Teeth
Regardless of how your kids get their candy, chances are, there will be a wide variety of sticky, gooey, chewy, and hard candies that you’ll need to siphon through before your kids dive into their candy stash. This leads us to our first tip, go through your children’s candy, and take out anything that may look dangerous, is unwrapped, homemade, or harmful for teeth. We consider most candy ‘not great’ for teeth, but some treats are worse than others, follow this guide to remove the most harmful threats from your kids Halloween candy loot this year:
- Hard Candy. Hard candy has a high potential for breaking or chipping your child’s teeth. Even suckers can cause damage from the prolonged sucking on sugar which can lead to cavities if not properly managed. We suggest removing or reducing the amount of hard candy your child gets this year.
- Sour Candy. Sour candies are filled with sugar and are highly acidic which can directly harm the enamel of teeth. Just like hard candy, considering removing or greatly reducing sour candy.
- Sticky/Gummy Candy. As the name suggests, sticky candy can pose problems for children’s teeth because this type of candy tends to get stuck between teeth, causing issues for both the enamel and cavities. Remove or reduce this candy from your child’s Halloween basket (especially if they have braces).
For the most part, sticking with chocolate seems to be the least harmful candy. If at all possible, aim for your child’s candy stash to be mostly dark chocolate as this is the healthiest type of chocolate available.
Let Your Kids Enjoy Their Candy in Moderation
As much as your kids would like to, eating all the candy they get in one go is not only bad for their teeth, but it’s also bad for their bodies. Too much sugar at once can cause mood swings, spikes in blood sugar levels, and issues with gut health. Set up a plan that makes sense for your family, like letting the kids have a piece of candy with dinner or after school alongside a healthy snack like an apple.
Talk With Your Kids About Dental Health
With the influx of candy, this is a great time to talk to your kids about the damage candy can cause to their teeth and gums. A great way to make this a practical learning experience is to have them brush and floss their teeth after they have eaten their allotted candy. This practice will instill lifelong oral hygiene habits that will help them to keep their teeth healthy for years to come.
If you’d like more information about how to keep your children’s teeth healthy or have any other questions, we invite you to contact our Rexburg family dental practice at your earliest convenience. Our staff is here to help make sure that your family has a fun, safe, and healthy Halloween.
Dr. Ronald Hammond
Dr. Ronald Hammond is a 1982 Graduate of the University of Washington. Honored to be married to Sandi and delighted to be father of six children and grandfather of sixteen grandchildren. Keeps life pleasantly focused on family, church, and community.