Halloween is a time of the year that children love. It is also a time when children consume plenty of sugary snacks, candy and chocolate. Therefore, it can pose an oral health problem for parents to consider. But two professionals have now given their advice on some key issues. Their advice can assist parents in managing their children’s oral health in this period.
Halloween is commonly one of the most enjoyable events of the year for children. Along with dressing up, it often results in them getting a huge number of sugary snacks, chocolate, candy and more.
While it may be the least of a child’s worries at the time, it is important that they don’t neglect their oral health over Halloween. Due to the level of sugar typically consumed, it is worth giving our oral health some extra attention during this time.
But a debate about Halloween from an oral health perspective has often provoked discussion among parents. The debate is whether a child should eat all of their Halloween candy at once, or if they should spread it out over time. Now, a dentist and nutritionist have both commented on the debate, and made some suggestions for parents .
Impact of Sugar
It is important to mention that no one expects children to go without any form of sugar. After all, Halloween only happens once a year, and sugar gives children much needed energy!
However, sugar is very damaging to teeth . It is the primary cause of tooth decay, which can result in cavities developing. Therefore, it is wise to try and limit sugar intake, especially in children.
Sugar is also linked to gum disease, which can cause more oral health issues. Moreover, a high sugar intake is linked with a range of physical health conditions like Diabetes and Heart Disease .
Recently, some professionals have discussed whether or not candy is best consumed all at once, or if children should spread it out over time – in terms of oral health.
Sarah Barnes is a pediatric dietitian at La Salle’s University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences . Brenda L. Branson is a dentist . This duo have both discussed the debate, and come to similar conclusions. They have made a few suggestions too for worried parents.
The bottom line is that candy has virtually no nutritional value. Every time a child has candy, it is taking up space that would be better filled with healthier foods.
But Barnes suggests that on Halloween, older children can eat a lot or even all at once. She reasons that she wouldn’t “be concerned about the consequences of a one-night candy fiasco, if they do overdo it, and they do get a tummy ache, they will learn that lesson a lot faster than if they have a parent hovering over them, saying they will get a tummy ache” .
Branson warned that if parents try to restrict candy too much, children may come to see candy as a “forbidden fruit” . Therefore, they would actually relish candy more, and actively attempt to seek it out.
Branson says that if children are restricted from candy excessively, when they are older “and make their own choices, they rebel and overindulge” . So whilst parents may think they are doing the right thing, it actually has negative long-term implications.
Based on these suggestions, a balanced approach would be useful. For example, parents could give children a small amount of candy after dinner, but ensure they brush their teeth at the end of the day.
Branson recommend that parents should steer children away from certain types of candy. This is dependent on how long the sugar spends on the surface of the tooth .
For example, Branson says that the less time that the sugar spends on the tooth – the better. With this in mind, Branson suggests that chocolate is the “least bad” .
Explaining this, Branson said that chocolate “melts quickly and it disperses quickly” . This is unlike “the sweet lollipop that lingers on your teeth for a long time, or the Tootsie Roll that just sits there in the grooves” .
Some parents try to limit the damage of Halloween by giving children non-candy treats like potato chips or pretzels . However, Branson has said that from an oral health perspective, they don’t really offer benefits over candy .
This is because these snacks contain complex carbohydrates – which subsequently break down in the mouth into sugar . Therefore, the damage is similar.
Most important of all
But most importantly of all, the professionals recommend that children should brush after they’ve eaten. If this isn’t possible, then at a very minimum, they should brush in the evenings.
By brushing, it will ensure that any residue from sugary treats or drinks is cleared. Moreover, it can also help to keep teeth strong, and protect them from harm.
Halloween is a fun season for children – and it is important to remember this. Adopting a sensible approach that balances their oral health and their sugar intake is important.
1) It is important to remember that as an adult, your children will look up to you and learn from you. This includes your oral health habits. Therefore, ensure that you demonstrate strong oral health habits, including brushing and flossing frequently, and attending regular dental check-ups. Dental check-ups are very important, as any treatment that is required can be detected. We recommend booking an appointment now!
2) It isn’t just children that love candy, as many of us have a sweet tooth. Therefore, we all need to remember the damage that candy and other sugary snacks can do to our teeth. After eating anything sugary, we recommend drinking water to neutralize acid levels in the mouth, along with brushing your teeth at least twice a day. If you need help on cutting down on sugar, have a discussion with your dentist at your next visit – as they can give you some recommendations. We hope to see you soon here at Taradale Dental soon!
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a range of treatment options and advice aimed at improving oral health.
It is crucial to brush your teeth at least twice a day and to floss regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is important.
We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
In addition, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.
 Avril, T. (2022). Should kids eat all Halloween candy at once, or spread it out? Dentists and nutritionists weigh in. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-10-kids-halloween-candy-dentists-nutritionists.html. Last accessed: 10th November 2022.
 NHS. (2020). Sugar: the facts. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/. Last accessed: 10th November 2022.