Can Halloween Candy Be Safe for Kids’ Teeth?

It’s Halloween time and guess what that means?  Your children are going to want candy – a pediatric dentist’s worst enemy.

So what are you going to do when your child says “trick or treat?”  We understand that children are going to have candy at Halloween but there are some sweets that are not quite as risky to indulge in.

The spookiest treats

Gummy Bears

Sticky, gooey, delicious!

The worst type of candy for your teeth is anything sticky, gummy, or gooey.  These candies stick to the grooves of your teeth and are not easily removed by saliva, your tongue or even tooth brushing.  If your child has any pre-existing fillings, these candies can damage or even dislodge the fillings.

Less scary alternatives

So what do I give my child who is dying for candy at Halloween?  Ice cream, cookies, chocolate, or sugar free gum is a better alternative to the sticky candy.  Ice cream, cookies, and chocolate will still have sugar which can ultimately cause tooth decay, but at least they’re easier to clean from your teeth and are usually consumed quickly instead of “grazing”.

Orbit Gum

A better alternative

Sugar free gum is an excellent alternative to sticky candy.  The American Dental Association has placed their seal of approval on a number of chewing gum brands including Dentyne Ice Sugarless Gum, Stride Sugarless Gum, Trident Sugarless Gum, Wrigley’s Extra Sugarless Gum, and Wrigley’s Orbit Sugarfree Gum.  Chewing gum for 20 minutes after meals has been shown to reduce tooth decay because it increases saliva which is a buffer to the cavity-causing bacteria.

If you can convince your child to hand over the candy completely, some good snack alternatives would be fruit, cheese, or nuts.

Don’t forget, it’s important to eat your sweets at mealtime rather than as a snack, drink a lot of water (yes, regular water, not flavored water), brush/floss your teeth, and visit your dentist regularly.

Have a Happy, Safe and Healthy Halloween!

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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