What is Halloween without candy? Whether you have younger kids or you’re just young at heart, sweets are inextricably tied to this holiday, and you should be able to enjoy them.
Unfortunately, those same delicious treats aren’t exactly good for your teeth – or your health in general. Is there a way to have the sweet, spooky fun of Halloween without cutting out all sugar?
Yes! You simply need to approach it from a different angle. Here’s how.
Enjoy candy with meals
Enjoy a piece of candy with or immediately after a meal for the greatest protection against oral health problems. How does this help?
Since your digestive enzymes are already hard at work while you’re eating food, they will help dissolve candy faster. This keeps the sugar from sitting on your teeth, which is good because it causes tooth decay.
Choose your candy wisely
The best candy for your teeth will digest quickly and wash off your teeth fast.
Hard candies do not fall under this category. They produce a sweet, sticky coating that lasts a long time on your teeth. The same can be said for sticky candies, like toffy, caramel, and gummy bears or worms.
Perhaps that’s why most dentists who hand out Halloween candy make chocolate their first choice (only 13 percent of dentists choose hard candies, while 79 percent choose chocolate). Why chocolate? Because it dissolves quickly and doesn’t present as high a risk for cavities.
Eat smart after Halloween
Indulge a bit on the holiday itself, but limit candy consumption to just one piece per day after Halloween.
If the temptation to binge on candy is too strong, freeze it so it’s not easily accessible. You can also donate your candy to various organizations or simply throw it away if you can’t resist indulging.
Select healthy snacks
Candy is not a good snack because it causes too much risk for decay. Select healthy snacks between meals, like fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy, or raw veggies with dip instead.
You’ll stay satisfied between meals without overdoing your sugar intake.
Monitor your drinks
It’s not just candy that gets people’s mouths into trouble on Halloween. We also tend to indulge with sugary sodas, juices and (for the adults) mixed alcoholic beverages. Sugary drinks, especially those that also contain acid like soda, can accelerate decay when combined with candy and other sweet foods.
When you choose to make fluoridated water your primary drink for the day, you do your teeth a big favor. Not only does it wash away sugars and accumulated debris from your teeth, it protects your teeth from decay with a coating of fluoride.
If you do drink sweet or acidic drinks on the holiday, be sure to follow them up with plenty of water – and definitely follow your usual brushing and flossing routine.
Chew (the right) gum
Sugarless gum can help you fight cavities by removing debris from your teeth. Chew a piece after meals when brushing isn’t possible, and you will enjoy a cleaner and healthier mouth.
Hopefully it goes without saying, though, that gum with sugar won’t have the same benefits. In fact, it will make your teeth more likely to decay.
Practice good oral hygiene
By brushing twice per day and flossing once per day, you do your mouth and your body a world of good. Keep up the good habits to minimize the damage from Halloween candy.
Also, good oral health habits protect your heart and other organs. Brushing and flossing remove plaque that can travel to your arteries when left unchecked and cause life-threatening problems. That’s a good reason to keep brushing after meals and to make flossing a daily habit.
Visit your dentist
It’s important to see your dentist at least twice per year for a cleaning and checkup. Your dentist will help you head off any potential problems and evaluate your mouth for any early signs of disease.
If it’s been a while since you had an appointment, schedule one today to make sure you have the healthiest mouth possible.