Preparing teeth for Halloween

The most recent U.S. Census shows that in the 5- to 14-year age range alone, 40 million prospective trick-or-treaters could be out this Halloween. If recent buying trends hold, Americans will have 20 million pounds of candy corn on hand—enough to give each costumed candy-lover half a pound. That’s before they get to the chocolate, lollipops and other treats. How can 32 tiny teeth hold up against this onslaught? The trick is to moderate kids’ intake of sweets and make sure they stick to their brushing-and-flossing routine, according to Ed Schooley, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. “Gathering and eating Halloween treats can be a lot of fun for kids and parents alike. The key is to enjoy the treats in moderation and to give teeth a treat too, in the form of a little extra care,” Dr. Schooley said. Here are some fun and creative ways to protect your child’s smile and encourage good dental care habits this Halloween: n Serve a healthy supper. A good meal before trick-or-treating leaves less room for sugary sweets. n Set up a candy “bank.” Allow your child four or five pieces of candy on Halloween, then store the rest in a sealed container (freeze chocolates and candy bars). Establish times when the “bank” will be open for withdrawals over the next month. n Offer tooth-friendly fare to trick-or-treaters. Consider sugar-free treats or travel sizes of toothpaste and dental floss. Just remember that although treats like dried fruit and gummy fruit snacks might be more nutritious than candy, all hold decay-producing acid against teeth for longer periods of time than other snacks. n Make sure candy is age-appropriate. Don’t give children ages 5 and younger jawbreakers or hard candies. These can chip teeth or cause choking. n Encourage kids to drink water throughout the day, especially after eating sweets. It will help rinse sugar away from teeth until there is time for proper brushing. n Brush before bedtime. Offer your child a new, brightly colored toothbrush as a final Halloween treat. Insist on a good brush before bedtime. After Halloween, it’s best to wait until after meals to give kids candy from the candy bank, because eating sugary treats after a balanced meal is better than eating them alone. “The body produces more saliva to help digest big meals, which washes away more food and helps neutralize harmful acids before they can attack teeth,” Dr. Schooley said. Delta Dental Plans Association, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is a national network of independent not-for-profit dental service corporations specializing in providing dental benefits programs to 43 million Americans in more than 75,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more information, or to speak with a dentist, contact one of the following: Susan C. Morris, Delta Dental Plans Association, 630-574-6855, e-mail, or Tina Valek, Leaf Public Relations, 651-324-2710, or e-mail

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!