As a local family dentist, I have to admit this time of year scares me. King-sized candy bars, rock hard Tootsie Rolls and giant gumballs are collected in good fun by little ones on Halloween. But, this type of candy wreaks havoc on their teeth. I’d like to show you just how bad these treats are, and offer you some sound alternatives.
Every year, I plead to Glendale area residents to offer kids some healthier Halloween options. Some oversized candy bars pack a whopping 40 grams, the equivalent of 10 tablespoons, of sugar!
Here’s the top of my scary Halloween candy list. Each one can easily break or crack a child’s tooth:
- Boulder-sized jawbreakers
- Rock hard gumballs
- Jolly ranchers
Sticky sweets are also a nightmare because they tend to get stuck in the pits and grooves of the teeth. If the sugars from these chewy candies make their way onto the teeth and are not properly brushed away, children are more at risk for cavities:
- Fruit snacks
- Candy Corn
- Tootsie Rolls
- Peanut butter kisses
Of course, I realize I may be fighting a losing battle during this annual sugar fest conspired by candy makers. This year, however, consider placing smaller treats into youngster’s plastic pumpkin holders. There are also relatively inexpensive and healthier alternatives that can be handed out instead.
Dentist Approved Halloween Treats
What teeth-friendly treats could be handed out at Halloween instead of the sticky stuff? Trick-or-treaters might enjoy one of these:
- Sugar-free gum
- A miniature or fun-size chocolate bar
- Friendly ghost sticker
- Washable tattoo
- Spooky ring
- Colorful wristband
- Bouncy ball or bubbles
- Snack-size bag of cheese crackers
- A tube of frozen yogurt
If your child consumes a sticky treat while at Halloween festivities, have them chew on a piece of sugar-free gum right afterward to help wash away some of the sugars on their teeth.
The Art of Giving
As a parent, I’m discovering that my children enjoy finding just the right costume for Halloween as much as they like going around the block to show off their outfit when collecting Halloween treats.
They also love it when someone who is handing out treats in our neighborhood makes a comment about their costume, or asks them if they have any tricks up their sleeve in order to get a treat. It makes me think that maybe it isn’t so much what is given to trick-or-treaters, as the art of how it is given.
If you have time this year, savor a moment with your young visitors. Think about having a couple types of treats so they can select what they’d like. A simple question like “Would you like this, or that?” may prompt a conversation in order to get them, and you, to slow down the process a bit and enjoy the annual community outing.
Sort and Trade
In our house, trick-or-treating would not be complete without our kids dumping their candy treasures on our table and sifting through it like toys in a sandbox.
This year, I am going to try and make it a learning experience as well by having them chart out the type and number of candy they receive, and talk with them about which ones are better for their teeth than others.
We’ll also likely set some guidelines as to when, and how much, candy gets consumed. Preferable, it will be after mealtime and before tooth brushing.
I’m also going to trade them their sticky stuff for sugar-free gum.
I’m hoping to entice other kids in the community to trade in their sticky candy at my office. Click here to find out what incentive I have in mind.