5 Tips for a Healthy Halloween
It’s officially fall as the calendar has turned to October and the cooler weather has slowly started to set in. It also means that Halloween is right around the corner which, for most children, means bags of free candy and stockpiled sweets that will last until the holidays. For adults, it also means more candy and sweets at get-togethers and parties from now through the New Year. There’s nothing wrong with kids and parents indulging their sweet tooth. But it’s important to have a plan to keep yourself and your mouth healthy this year. Here are 5 tips and suggestions to think about:
Time it Right
Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary treats) with meals or shortly after meals. Saliva increases during meals, which helps rinse away food particles and cancels out the acids produced in your mouth by bacteria. This is preferred over casually snacking on candy throughout the day, which increases your risk for cavities due to continuous re-exposure to sugar without cleaning.
Choose Candy Carefully
We all have our favorites! But, try to avoid hard candy and sticky treats that stay in your mouth for longer periods of time. Studies show the length of time sugary foods stay in your mouth has a direct effect on your risk of decay. Also, hard and sticky candies tend to be clingy and get stuck in your teeth. Snacks such as gummy bears and taffy are harder to clean and take longer to get washed away by saliva, which increases the risk of decay. Chocolate is probably your best option because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candies. And dark chocolate is even better since it has less sugar than milk chocolate.
Have a Plan for Your Candy Stash
It’s tempting to keep a giant stash of candy around for as long as possible. But your teeth and your body will thank you if you limit the amount you keep from the beginning. Pick out some of your favorites and donate the rest! This year at Birmingham Smiles Dentistry, we are partnering with Operation Gratitude in a candy buy-back program. Just bring in the extra candy you’d like to donate and we’ll make sure its packaged and sent to our soldiers and first responders in Birmingham and around the world. Please click the link above or give us a call if you have any questions on how to participate!
Drink More Water and Stay Away from Sugary Beverages
Making a habit of drinking plain, fluoridated water will help remove food debris and sugar from your teeth and provide additional protection from decay. It can be especially helpful to rinse out your or your child’s mouth immediately after snacking on Halloween candy. In addition, avoiding sugary drinks in the first place such as sodas, sports drinks, and flavored waters will always lower your risk of decay. Most of these types of drinks are very acidic and contain loads of sugar, which is a bad combination for your teeth.
Brush and Floss Twice a Day
We recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, every day, for two minutes with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. In addition, you need to floss between your teeth at least once a day to remove debris and sugar that can’t be reached by your toothbrush alone. If during Halloween or the holidays, you are eating a lot of candy or sugary foods, we recommend flossing twice a day following your brushing to ensure your teeth stay clean and protected.
With Halloween comes fun costumes and candy. But remember the sugar in those treats can cause some unwanted tricks if you’re not careful. The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are. So enjoy the occasional sweet treat this fall but stick to your plan to keep those teeth healthy!