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Protect children’s teeth from Halloween candy tricks

Healthy tips from California Dental Association

October 12, 2023
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Sacramento, Calif. – With Halloween just around the corner, store shelves are filled with bags of candy and children are dreaming of the sweet treats they’ll bring home – and devour – after a night of trick-or-treating. Parents and caregivers, on the other hand, may be worrying about the impact all that candy consumption will have on their kids’ teeth.

Children consume around 7,000 calories and three cups of sugar in one day on Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation. This makes Halloween potentially hazardous to oral health because cavities are caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and feed on sugars.

So how can kids enjoy Halloween while preventing cavities later on? Contact CDA to schedule a virtual or in-person interview with a dentist in your area to help share the following cavity-prevention tips with your community this month.

The California Dental Association recommends that children always brush and floss their teeth immediately after eating candy. Parents should also keep in mind that the frequency of ingesting sweets has a greater impact on the development of tooth decay than the amount consumed, said CDA President Dr. John Blake, DDS.

“Whether they eat a single piece of candy or a whole bag of sweets, it is important that children brush with fluoride toothpaste and floss after consumption in order to best protect their teeth and prevent cavities.”

Caregivers should also opt for teeth-friendly candy for their children, Dr. Blake said. He shares the following tips for choosing the best Halloween treats.

  • Avoid chewy candies like caramel, gummies and taffy. They stick to teeth longer than other sweets such as chocolate, which can easily be washed away by saliva or rinsing with water. Speaking of chocolate, semisweet and dark chocolate contain less cavity-causing sugar than milk chocolate, making it an even better choice for kids.
  • Limit hard and sticky candies that stay in the mouth longer, giving bacteria more time to create acid that weakens tooth enamel and causes cavities.
  • Sour candies have high levels of acid that can wear down tooth enamel, but eating cheese or drinking milk after eating the candies will neutralize the acids. Wait at least 60 minutes before brushing as the acid can soften enamel, making it more susceptible to erosion.
  • Enjoy Halloween candy and other sugar-filled foods with meals. Saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize the acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. The increased saliva flow also helps rinse away food particles.
  • Don’t keep a stash of Halloween or other holiday candy. Have your family pick their favorites and donate the rest to organizations that send candy to troops overseas.

More tips for protecting teeth

CDA recommends parents, caregivers and children protect their teeth year round by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day, flossing daily, avoiding sugary drinks like soda and visiting the dentist regularly. CDA also endorses the use of sealants – a thin protective coating applied by a dentist that shields the chewing surfaces of the back teeth from cavity-causing bacteria.

Email Alicia Malaby or call 916.554.5372 to schedule an interview with a dentist in your community.

About the California Dental Association

The California Dental Association represents organized dentistry in the state of California. Founded in 1870, CDA is committed to the success of our members in service to their patients and the public. CDA also contributes to the oral health of Californians through various comprehensive programs and advocacy. CDA’s membership consists of more than 27,000 dentists, making it the largest constituent of the American Dental Association. For more information, visit cda.org. 

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