Costumed trick-or-treaters will soon be hitting Iowa’s sidewalks and parents might be able to use a few tips about how to help their kids scare away cavities this Halloween.
Ashley Aubry, a registered dental hygienist, says the bacteria inside our mouths is probably more excited than children about candy because it feeds on sugar, producing a weak acid — and that acid is what contributes to cavities.
Aubry says, “It may be a good idea to divide the candy out and make sure they only eat the candy they like and make sure that they only eat it after a meal, as a snack, and if they do eat that snack, make sure they brush right afterwards.”
Not all candies are created equal. Sticky, gummy and hard candies can stay on teeth longer, giving bacteria a longer time to snack.
According to the American Dental Association, chocolate is likely the best option for children because it washes off teeth more easily than some of the other types of sweets. Also ideal are alternative treats like fruits, veggies or popcorn.
She says parents need to restrict access to the candy, otherwise kids may gobble it for hours on end.
“Whether it’s sucking on a hard piece of candy like a Jolly Rancher or eating a bag full of gummy bears,” Aubry says, “the key thing is to make sure that they don’t consume the food all day and that they take the time to brush and drink plenty of water because without, that sticky, chewy food will stay on their teeth all day.”
Limit the stash of post-Halloween candy. Aubry suggest parents let children choose the candy they like best and then donate the rest.
Also, the ADA recommends children and adults brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, and floss once a day.
Aubry is a clinical instructor at Creighton University’s School of Dentistry.