As October 31 approaches, children around the country prepare to dress up like ghosts, super heroes, rock stars, or princesses to collect bags of candies. While children love Halloween, not all parents and dentists feel the same way. The occasional chocolate bar or sweet treat won’t ruin your child’s teeth, but consuming candy and junk food in excess can impact oral health. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) offers the following suggestions so that kids and parents alike can enjoy trick or treating this year:
• Limit the amount of candy your child consumes. Even if your son or daughter fill a huge bag full of goodies, insist that your child have a few pieces and then put the candy away.
• Donate most of the candy. Check with local pediatric dentists. Many offices offer a “buy back” program where kids get so much money per pound of candy. In that case, everybody wins.
• Give out alternatives to candy. Set an example and give out crayons, small prizes, or even dental floss.
• Avoid chewy treats. When you let your kids have their candy, stay away from the sticky sweeties like gummy bears and taffy, which can get stuck on teeth and cause decay.
• Encourage brushing and flossing. After the big night out, use Halloween as a chance to remind kids about the importance of good home habits. Give them a refresher on proper flossing techniques so they can leave their teeth sparkling clean.
• Make a trip to the dentist. The candy and junk food offered at Halloween can serve as a great reminder to schedule your child’s next check up.