Hooray, it’s October! Time to start digging those scary ghost and skeleton decorations out of the basement and start putting together The. Best. Halloween. Costume. Ever. Indeed, the Halloween season can be a joyful time for the entire family, packed with parties, the fun of dressing up, and the ritual of picking out a pumpkin and making it come alive.

For many kids, of course, the best part of Halloween is the candy. And the steady flow of sweet treats doesn’t start on October 31st. There are parties at school, events around town. And chances are your child will bring home a sugar-filled goody bag from each one. All of this adds up to a child’s fantasy fulfilled — and a potential nightmare for his or her oral health.

Here are some great tips for keeping your children’s teeth and gums in great condition through October and beyond. And if you live in the Laredo, TX area, don’t forget to schedule checkups for the entire family at Davenport Dental Group, now with two locations for your convenience. Call our Junction Drive office at 956-242-6745 or our Winfield location at 956-517-2695.

Buying Better Halloween Treats

Halloween — and trick-or-treating for sweets — is a cherished American tradition and we would never suggest that you forbid your kids from eating any candy, ever. But they certainly don’t need to eat bags and bags of it without rules or restriction. And while all candy contains sugar, some types are worse for the teeth than others. Be educated, and don’t be afraid to set limits.

Remember: treats don’t have to be edible. While you may want to stay the traditional route for the big event on Halloween night, class parties are another matter. If you get a note from your child’s teacher requesting that you send in a treat, look for goodies like seasonally decorated erasers, stickers, and pencils. Children just love receiving these, and they are not bad for their teeth (assuming they are not chewing on those pencils, of course). Go to your local dollar store and stock up for cheap!

When it is time to go to the store to buy candy, chocolate is a good choice (yay!) because it melts away quickly and tends to not linger on the teeth. Avoid hard, sticky, and chewy candy like caramels and taffy. Bits of these get trapped in the grooves of the teeth, creating a feeding frenzy for harmful bacteria.

We’ve noticed a trend of people handing out treats that they think are a healthier alternative like soft granola bars, fruit leather, and those little packets of gummy “fruit snacks.” Well, guess what? Just because something has the word “fruit” in its name doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Like chewy candy, these are sugar bombs that will get stuck in the teeth and promote tooth decay. For the same reason, we don’t recommend dried fruits. (Does anyone really like getting those little boxes of raisins for Halloween anyway?) At least in terms of your dental health, chocolate is a better choice.

Smart Trick-or-Treating

So Halloween night is here. Your kids are going to eat candy, and unless you have superhuman willpower, you will probably eat a bit of candy yourself. And that’s okay. Here are a few ideas to keep your kids (and yourself) from overdosing on the sweet stuff and minimizing potential tooth decay.

Make and serve a nutritious, hearty dinner before your kids leave for trick-or-treating. It should be something they love. This will fill up their stomachs and they will be less likely to use candy to stave off hunger along the route.

Skip the soda and juice (this is good advice in general, but especially tonight). Give your kids water to drink. Water is not only essential for hydration, but it helps to rinse the mouth of food particles and bacteria. If possible, have them carry a water bottle for trick-or-treating. A reusable water bottle filled from the tap is better than a disposable water bottle. Its impact on the environment is less, plus most tap water contains fluoride, an essential mineral for keeping tooth enamel strong.

When your kids come home, let them choose a couple of favorites for immediate consumption. Either put up the rest of the stash (disposing of the chewy stuff, if you’d like) to dole out over time, or keep just some of it for your child and get rid of the rest. You can bring it to your office, or donate it to an organization (like one that sends candy to soldiers overseas).

And a tip for Halloween night and every night: practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day and floss daily.

If you live in the Laredo, TX area, call Davenport Dental Group for your family’s next checkups. You may request an appointment online or call one of our offices directly: 956-242-6745 (Junction Drive) or 956-517-2695 (Winfield).