Five tricks for a tooth-friendly Halloween

By Delta Dental of Illinois

NAPERVILLE, Illinois — Most little boys and “ghouls” will dress up and ring neighborhood doorbells hoping to collect a large stash of candy this Halloween. After trick-or-treating, Delta Dental of Illinois encourages parents to pay close attention to the types of treats children bring home to protect their teeth from sugar terror.

While no sweets are good for teeth, some are better than others,” said Dr. Katina Spadoni, dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois. “Candy that melts and disappears quickly is least harmful to kids’ teeth. The longer teeth are exposed to sugar, the longer bacteria can feed on it, which could produce cavity-causing acid.”

Nearly four of five Illinois households pass out Halloween candy, according to the Delta Dental of Illinois Children’s Oral Health Survey. Chocolate was the No. 1 treat handed out (82 percent), followed by chewy candy (33 percent), hard candy (33 percent) and caramel (17 percent).

Spadoni says this is somewhat good news for parents. Chocolate is one of the best options, because it dissolves quickly and can be eaten easily, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth.

Aside from choosing chocolate, Delta Dental of Illinois offers the following five tips for making this a tooth-friendly Halloween.

1. Encourage children to have a good meal prior to trick-or-treating so there will be less temptation to fill up on candy.

2. Limit the amount of chewy and hard candies kids eat. Hard candy is tough on teeth because it tends to be sucked on at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time. Chewy, sticky treats are damaging because they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, and are more difficult for saliva to break down.

3. Only allow kids to have candy in small portions at limited times, such as after a meal, as dessert or at regular snack times. It’s best to avoid letting kids snack on candy throughout the day.

4. Kids should brush their teeth or at least rinse with water after eating sweets. Remember that high-sugar diets are detrimental to oral and overall health, and children should always brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, floss once a day, and visit the dentist regularly.

5. Give kids something other than candy. Another option is to let children trade in their treats for a toy, and then donate the candy to the troops or a local dentist buy-back program. Some houses don’t even pass out candy. In fact, nearly 25 percent of Illinois parents hand out non-candy items, such as toys, money or fruit.

For additional tips about how to help keep kids’ teeth healthy during Halloween and all year long, visit the Tooth Fairy’s Halloween website at ToothFairyTrickyTreats.com.

Posted Oct. 29, 2014

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