Trick or Teeth: Dental Tips for Halloween Candy

Halloween is right around the corner, which means all kinds of dressed up children will soon be filling up their buckets full of candy and treats. It is fitting that this holiday falls during National Dental Hygiene Month- a great time to refresh your oral health knowledge.

During “Trick-or-Treating” night, there will be plenty of treats to go around. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 95% of Americans will purchase Halloween candy to the tune of $2.6 billion on gummies, hard candies, chocolates and everything in between. While that is good news for consumers, it is not necessarily good news for their teeth.

Many dental professionals can certainly agree that sugar is not good for our teeth or overall health. Halloween is synonymous with candy and many people are going to enjoy plenty of it. However, there are some simple tips that people can do to help minimize the damage of consuming Halloween treats.

First, watch out for the hard, sticky candies. These particular candies do not dissolve quickly and typically higher in sugar content. They produce a lot of acid by-products that coat your teeth and can put your teeth at risk of caries. Second, chocolates are a better alternative. Chocolates, especially dark chocolate with low sugar count, are a better option. Even chocolates with nuts are better because the nuts tend to break up the sugary stickiness. Anyone with allergies, please make sure to check the label. Third, eat candy in one setting rather than all day long. The frequency of sugar, not necessarily the volume, is what causes the process of caries. It is better to enjoy a few treats in one setting with one “acid attack” verses eating candy all day with multiple “acid attacks.”

Halloween treats do not always have to be candies or chocolate. A wonderful suggestion from the “Teal Pumpkin Project” is to have non-food treats to include anyone with food allergies. Non-food treats are just as fun and exciting! Some low-cost items that can be handed out are: glow sticks, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls, or stickers. The list can be endless. If you aren’t sure if a Trick-or-Treater has any allergies, just ask.

Most importantly, please make sure to inspect all Halloween treats, especially those with any allergies. Discard any treats that are opened, punctured, or tampered. Better to be safe than sorry.

We do not want to be the “Halloween Grinch” but there are plenty of ways to celebrate a healthy Halloween. Brush your teeth correctly, floss, and visit your dentist regularly to prevent any dental issues.

Article written by Jennifer Tuttle, RDH, Rural Health Dental Clinic