Halloween is supposed to be equal parts fun and frightening, but you might have to deal with some tricks if you eat too many treats this October. Fail to guard your fangs and you could end up in the dentist’s chair come November — and that’s a scary thought for just about anyone. But there are ways you can keep the cavities away (and it’s probably easier than warding off witches).
How to Avoid the Biggest Post-Halloween Scare: Cavities
With any luck, no one will get hurt going door-to-door asking for candy. If they do, you may be one of the 27% of U.S. patients who report they’ve visited an urgent care center within a two-year span. But the dangers of Halloween debauchery extend beyond a slip-and-fall or a prank gone awry.
Although gathering up all the Snickers, Reese’s, Three Musketeers, Skittles, and Starbursts they can might be among your kids’ favorite activities, it’s important that parents keep tabs on how their children consume their candy. Data shows that around 43% of youth aged two to 19 suffered from dental caries (also known as cavities) from 2015 to 2016. While it’s not just Halloween candy that can cause cavities, increased sugar consumption can raise your child’s risk of tooth decay. Since decay-causing bacteria feeds off sugar, it’s no surprise that the more of it you eat, the higher your risk.
Here’s an even spookier statistic: children consume approximately three cups of sugar on October 31 alone, thanks to trick-or-treating and holiday parties. And of course, it’s really not a one-day event. School children start celebrating early in October, with the festivities continuing on through November and December. Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t merely about the turkey and the ham; they’re also filled with cookies, cakes, and candies — much to your dentist’s delight.
It’s no wonder, then, that October has been deemed National Dental Hygiene Month. As such, parents can encourage some healthy habits for their families — without totally ruining the fun.
- Try to avoid hard-sticking candies (like taffy, caramel, and lollipops), as these can stick around and be more likely to cause cavities
- If your child’s haul is simply too large, make a trade with them: offer a small toy, some money, or a special family activity for half of their candy collection and donate it to an organization that will accept unopened treats
- Amp up the healthy food choices that can protect teeth, such as cheese, yogurt, apples, leafy greens, carrots, and celery
- Encourage proper flossing habits and turn nightly brushing into a game to make the activity less of a chore
You don’t have to completely cancel candy this Halloween. But by limiting your child’s consumption and promoting healthier habits, you can help them to protect their teeth (and their whole bodies) beyond this spooky season.