Friday, October 28, 2011

Trick or Treat, Don’t Hurt My Teeth

Guest post by Keely McKissack on behalf of Masterpiece Smiles

During October, candy really does seem to grow on trees. Unlike the beautiful assortment of fall leaves that remain scattered all over the yard, kids have a tendency to rake up so much candy that they can jump in it. However, after a month of indulging on those sweets that are notoriously bad on your teeth, are you going to be left staring at some scary smiles even after all the Halloween masks come off? Cavities are pretty spooky any time of year, but here are some quick tips that can help you protect your kids’ teeth this Halloween season.

Before reaching for that bag of candy, start the holiday off strong by making fun, smart and creative Halloween treat purchases. You can still bring the Halloween spirit home by substituting candy with Halloween-themed arts and crafts, stickers, temporary tattoos and spooky toys. Or you can try some healthier Halloween-themed recipes that are fun for you and your kids to make at home, like this creepy rice cake berry dessert.

When it comes to candy, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the season’s traditional traps, (candy corn, Tootsie Rolls, and caramel apples to name a few) that are bad for children’s teeth because of the sugar and carbohydrate residue they leave behind. Cavities occur when bacteria use that residue to create acid that eats away at tooth enamel, which is why it’s important to brush your teeth after eating and exercise caution when enjoying any of the following treats this Halloween season:

-Hard candies like Jolly Ranchers, Jawbreakers and lollipops can cause tooth fractures, chips and cracks if you are tempted to bite and crunch on them. They are also problematic because they remain in your mouth for extended periods of time, leaving your teeth exposed to their sugary residue.

-Sour candies like Warheads, Shockers, Sour Patch Kids and Now & Laters contain a large amount of acid that erodes tooth enamel upon direct contact.

-Chewy candy and candy with chewy fillings like Milk Duds, Laffy Taffy and Snickers are harmful because they can easily get stuck between your teeth.

Instead of the usual bags of candy you can pick up at the grocery store, enjoy these sweet alternatives in moderation:

-Instead of milk chocolate, opt for dark chocolates as they contain antioxidants that can be good for your heart and blood pressure. However, these treats are still high in sugar, so brushing is still important.

-Peanut M&M’s and other snacks with nuts and fruit contain protein and antioxidants that are beneficial. Just be careful with dried fruits that can get stuck in teeth and become harmful.

-Sugar-free gum and hard candies can help get rid of extra sugar residue on and in between your teeth and increase saliva for a healthier mouth.

So how do you keep Halloween fun if you’re cutting back on the candy?

It’s important to give yourself and your kids a break. Eat some candy and don’t ban it completely. Instead, use this time as an opportunity to teach your kids about portion control, healthy eating, and brushing and flossing habits. Show your kids you still have a few trick or treats up your sleeve. Don’t put a damper on their Halloween night by simply confiscating the candy that is bad for their teeth. Instead, enjoy some family time and make it into a game where they can trade their bad candy for prizes, get-out-of-a-chore coupons or healthier options. Save a few pieces of their favorite candy for rewards or dessert after dinner for a few nights, but donate the rest. Prizes from the trade-in game will help them forget all lost candy, and instead they’ll get some fun rewards that will bring out those healthy smiles.

1 comment:

  1. As I'm reading, I was thinking "but what about the trick-or-treating candy they get?"...and you nailed it at the end. Good idea, having them trade and barter for healthier items we already know they like. So far, mom and dad still control the candy outflow...may as well use that while we can. :)


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