A total of $2.1 billion will be spent on Halloween candy this year, according to the National Retail Federation. And we all know that Halloween candy shows up in bulk in stores before we even turn the calendar page onto October. That means those of us who have limited willpower have already been noshing on Halloween treats more often than we might indulge in candy any other time of year. And with candy comes dental problems, both large and small.
People might say their Halloween candy purchases are for their kids and trick-or-treaters, but a Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey found that about 80 percent of parents admit to eating their kids’ Halloween haul. While dentists are concerned about the types of candy that’s eaten, it’s the habits surrounding the candy eating that can do the most damage.
Have fun this Halloween season, but make smart decisions about when and what you snack on for the sake of your teeth and overall health! Here are some tips:
- Steer clear of chewy and sticky. Caramels, taffies, gummies, and the like are all candies that cling to your teeth. These sweets will take longer to be washed away by saliva and the longer the sugar sticks to your teeth, the greater your risk of tooth decay.
- Go easy on the hard stuff. Your teeth are strong, but they are not infallible, and neither is any restorative dentistry or cosmetic dentistry you’ve had done. Biting down on a hard candy, gumball, or lollipop can crack, chip, or break a tooth or destroy your non-mercury fillings or porcelain crowns.
- Rely on alternatives to brushing. When you can’t brush immediately after eating Halloween treats, at least rinse your mouth with water until you can do a thorough brushing and flossing. Or chew sugarless gum to help increase saliva production and neutralize the acids released by bacteria in plaque.
- Respect your braces. If you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, wearers of traditional metal braces will be limited in what they can enjoy in the way of Halloween treats. Don’t attempt to dig into the chewy stuff because it’s a special occasion. If you or your teen is preparing for braces, find out whether you’re a candidate for Invisalign so you can eat what you like without having to worry about the integrity of your orthodontia, and so you can brush and floss normally.
- Indulge completely. Eating one piece of candy here and there throughout the day or continually sucking on one large lollipop is actually worse for your teeth than going full zombie and eating as much candy in one sitting as possible. You may think you’re honoring your diet by snacking delicately, but exposing your teeth to a constant sugar and acid bath does your oral health no favors.
Halloween should be fun, but it can also be healthy and safe for your teeth if you make the right choices. Chocolate is actually one of the best kinds of candy to eat when it comes to oral health because chocolate is less likely to adhere to your enamel and it’s eaten more quickly than sweets like lollipops.
If you find yourself in dental trouble before or after Halloween, schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at Fort Lauderdale’s International Center for Dental Excellence.