Tooth-friendly alternative treats for the most candy- laden season of all…Halloween!? It’s possible! We have a few ideas and tips… but first, let’s have a look at the statistics for candy at Halloween!
Estimated amount of of candy purchased: 598 million pounds.
Estimated amount of money spent: 1.9 billion dollars.
Average per child, according to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta:
- 60 pieces of candy
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1-and-half cups of fat
- 4,800 calories
Wow! Those are some hefty numbers, and all the sugar is not just hard on your teeth- the US is a nation of increasingly hefty people with increasing rates of diabetes. A quick internet search reveals other disturbing statistics: prescriptions of insulin for children have more than doubled since 2004. Sugar is linked to ADD/ADHD as well, and prescriptions for Ritalin are also more than double what they were 8 years ago.
Now, does that mean we can’t have a few occasional treats? Of course not! But if there is ever such a thing as “too much”, the Halloween haul of the average trick-or-treater is the epitome. Here are our recommendations for helping our children and any other American children enjoy Halloween and trick-or-treating without encouraging the unhealthy side effects of overindulgence, like tooth decay of course, but also obesity and diabetes.
- If you or your child will be eating candy, limit it to a reasonable amount at one time, and don’t much on it all day. Introducing sugar into the mouth increases the acidity and weakens the tooth enamel- it is essential to limit the exposure time instead of constantly introducing more sugar throughout the day. Drink water afterward and brush with a fluoride toothpaste (consider getting RECALDENT, a special tooth-strengthening paste, sold at our office).
- If you want to give out candy, chocolate is a better choice than the gooey, sticky candies that get in-between your teeth, stick to your teeth, and stay there. Also avoid sour candies (the acid ingredients that make them sour are extra bad for enamel) and hard candies (since they sit in the mouth longer and cause a longer exposure time to an acid environment).
- Consider handing out mini-pretzels, raisins, popcorn balls, and other non-candy treats to the trick-or-treaters as somewhat healthier snacks. These, like most carb-containing foods, can still create acid in the mouth, but kids are less likely to overindulge or keep coming back for more, and they can be less caloricaly dense and better for overall health.
- Give out sugar-free candy. Xylitol-sweetened products are tasty and clinically proven to be kind to teeth compared to sugar. It is also better for blood sugar and safe for diabetics. We have Xylitol candy at the office, and you can get it here: http://www.drjohns.com/
- Hand out other fun toys and gadgets! Stickers, fake tattoos, glow-in-dark bracelets, creepy Halloween bugs and spider rings. You can find these and other fun ideas at party stores or available to order online.
- Give TRICKS! We do say Trick-OR-Treat, after all. Learn how to juggle or get good at a magic trick or two, plan some spooky scares, or get whoopee cushions and other gag props to be silly with. Most kids have a blast with things that make them giggle or shriek- it makes the experience fun on whole other level that isn’t all about the candy, and we bet YOU will have fun doing it!
And if your kids are going to come home with a stash of sweets weighting a few pounds, let them know there is a good cause for all that stuff: Halloween Candy Buyback is a program that collects all that excess candy and sends it to the troops deployed overseas, where they don’t get as many treats and sweets. Mall of Georgia Dentistry is a participant, collecting candy and giving out toothbrushes and raffle tickets in their place! Oh, we send toothbrushes to the troops, too. Take the opportunity to teach good dental hygiene and moderation: let your child pick a few of their favorite treats to keep, and then give the rest to a worthy cause. It’s a good idea for good health, good teeth, and good for the troops who serve our country!
In fact, you can extend the fun of Halloween by letting your kids dress up again and come to Mall of Georgia Dentistry’s Halloween Candy Buyback Festival on Friday, November 2nd from 5:00-8:00pm at our office. We will have a bounce house and games and other entertainment to make dropping off excess candy during this time a fun experience. We will also be accepting candy for Halloween Candy Buyback any time we are at the office starting November 1st going through November 8th.
We hope you will use the facts, tips, and ideas and in this post. Dr. Vancil and the staff want you to have a great Halloween- fun, healthy, and smile-friendly!