The Best Halloween Treats for Your Child’s Teeth
Halloween is unlike any other day of the year. This magical day of make-believe allows your child (and you!) to embody a character or concept that sparks their admiration and curiosity. More than just a costumed holiday, Halloween offers your child the opportunity to engage in pretend play, which can enrich their imagination and add to their social, emotional, and language abilities.
All things funky, spooky, and kooky aside, Halloween can play a real trick on the health of your child’s teeth. Many Halloween treats are sticky, sugary, acidic, or starchy. As the bacteria in your child’s mouth convert leftover sugars and starches to acid, your child’s teeth become more vulnerable to tooth decay and enamel damage.
If the idea of denying your child candy or sweets on Halloween sounds daunting, don’t worry. There’s no need to go all or nothing, especially in the beginning. Instead, here’s a list of 10 tooth-friendly treats to enjoy and share this Halloween.
1. Sugar-free gum
Sugary gum is one of the worst kinds of treats for your child’s teeth. Instead, choose a sugar-free gum that’s been approved by the Amerian Dental Association (ADA). Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal or Halloween treat stimulates saliva production, which can help prevent cavities when combined with twice-annual dental visits and daily brushing and flossing.
2. Unsweetened applesauce
Though unsweetened applesauce still contains natural sugars, applesauce offers your child the healthful addition of dietary fiber. Alongside promoting healthy digestion, dietary fiber helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Experts recommend that children aged one to three get about 19 grams of fiber daily, while children aged four to eight should consume 25 grams daily. A one-cup serving of unsweetened applesauce provides approximately 3 grams of dietary fiber.
Of all the conventional sweets that may make it into your child’s Halloween bounty, chocolate is usually a better option. Though chocolate does contain sugar, it is also believed to be more easily cleared out of the mouth than other sweets. Chocolate has a melting point between 93 and 96.8 degrees. In a human mouth of 98.6 degrees, chocolate melts and can wash off the teeth more quickly than hard or sticky candies. The best choice is chocolate that doesn’t include sticky additions, like caramel or nougat. You can also opt for dark chocolate, which tends to contain less sugar than white or milk chocolate.
4. Play-Doh or modeling clay.
Play-Doh and modeling clay are hands-on treats that can continue to spark your child’s imagination and creativity after the holiday has ended. Often available in a multipack of smaller sizes, Play-Doh and modeling clay can be easily passed out to trick-or-treaters or given out at school.
5. Glow sticks
Glow sticks are a fun and functional Halloween treat that can be found in multiple colors and sizes. Glow sticks can help make your child’s costume appear especially spooky, sweet, or unique, in addition to increasing visibility while trick-or-treating.
6. Halloween trinkets
From vampire teeth to spider rings, you can provide your child and trick-or-treaters trinkets that celebrate the quirks of Halloween without compromising the health of little teeth.
7. Temporary tattoos
Temporary tattoos give parents the chance to be creative while keeping added sugars at bay. You can opt to stay on theme with classic Halloween motifs (like ghosts and pumpkins) or explore any idea your imagination fancies (say unicorns or dinosaurs).
8. Coloring books
Coloring books are a great way to nurture enjoyment without feeding an inevitable sugar rush and crash. Coloring gives your child the opportunity to practice creative expression, soothe stress, and develop better spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination. Plus, it’s often just fun! As they have the potential to promote calm, focus, and stress-reduction, coloring books have even become popular for adults over the last several years.
9. Pencils or erasers
Halloween pencils and erasers add a little magic to an item kids use most every day. Like temporary tattoos, you’re not limited to the Halloween theme. You can go for mechanical, rainbow, striped, or spotted stickers, or a few of each!
10. Bottled water
Though staying hydrated is a boon to your child’s oral health and wellbeing, drinking water can be easily kicked to the curb as your child dashes from door to door collecting Halloween treats. Alongside promoting good health, focus, and cognitive function, drinking water can also help your child prevent cavities by washing leftover sugars, acids, and starches off their teeth. You can even add a little Halloween flair to small bottles of water with Halloween decorations or stickers.
Though it may take time for you and your child to adjust to reducing sugary treats, every little effort you make plants a seed for longer-lasting change. There’s no need to judge or be hard on yourself if your child does indulge in some Halloween treats. Just remember to have them rinse their mouth with water after eating Halloween goodies and to always brush and floss their teeth before going to sleep.
Do you have questions about how you can help your child enjoy the benefits great oral health brings? Your Pediatric Dental Specialists are always here to answer your questions and offer insight on how you can support your child’s oral health and overall wellbeing. Contact our office with questions or to schedule your child’s next appointment.