This year’s spookiest night is likely to look a little different than years past, but even with COVID-19 restrictions, many parents report that they will probably buy candy for kids who won’t be able to get as much from trick-or-treating, while others have devised creative ways to protect kids and parents from coronavirus risks while still carrying on the traditions of Halloween.
If you are planning to have a lot of sugary treats in your household on October 31, here are some important tips from our dentists to protect against cavities.
1: Limit when your kids can eat treats
Sugar that stays on your child’s teeth for a longer period of time is more likely to lead to bacteria growth, plaque, and eventually cavities. Don’t let kids “graze” on candy over long periods of time. Instead, set specific times when kids can eat their treats, like right after a meal. Follow the treats with a glass of water to help wash the excess sugar off the teeth, and make sure to brush within about an hour.
2: Avoid hard or sticky candies
All candy and sugar is not created equal when it comes to avoiding cavities. Hard candies like lollipops expose teeth to sugar over a prolonged period of time (see #1 above). Sticky candies like caramel and gummies, or acidic candies that are “chewy”, can get into the small grooves between teeth and in your molars and lead to bacteria growth. Sticky candy can also pull out sealants that protect the grooves in your child’s teeth and prevent cavities. Instead, choose chocolates or soft candies that can more easily be washed off with water and saliva.
3: Create a “candy bank” with your kids
A candy bank is a place where parents store candy and allow your child to withdraw treats (like a regular bank with a different kind of currency). This helps moderate your child’s intake of sweets, and teaches them some basic banking concepts too. Take it a step further and only allow withdrawals in exchange for something—for example, children are allowed to make a candy withdrawal only after completing chores, reading a book, or finishing a homework assignment.
4: Trade candy for another reward
After trick-or-treating, allow kids to select their favorite pieces from their haul and trade the rest in for a toy or other non-food reward. You can even donate the candy or find other creative ways to use it that don’t involve eating so much sugar.
5: Brush with fluoride toothpaste
When kids do eat some of that Halloween candy, make sure they brush with a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes morning and night, or more often if they’re eating a lot of candy in the middle of the day.
Schedule a trip to the dentist
No matter what your Halloween looks like, make sure you schedule your regular checkups with the dentist for a cleaning every six months to keep those teeth healthy and bright. Contact Young Family Dental to schedule yours today.