Peek-a-boo! Halloween is just around the corner.
The annual celebration keeps families as they prepare sweet scares!
Halloween activities usually include scary stories, horror films, costume parties, pumpkins, pranks, haunted houses, and everyone’s favorite Halloween custom – trick-or-treating.
Since the late 1950s, trick-or-treating has been a popular activity among children in the U.S.. Children dress up in different costumes and go from one house to another to receive various treats.
Trick-Or-Treat and Your Oral Health
Treats given out on Halloween are commonly candies. Candy is rich in calories and carbohydrates and low in micronutrients.
According to statistics portal Statista, approximately 44.17 million people in the U.S. ate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in a 2016 consumer survey.
A report by Experian Simmons showed that 25 percent of US adults eat chocolate or hard candy. On the other hand, 96 percent of American children ages six to 11 eat chocolate or hard candy, with older kids having a higher frequency of eating candies.
These statistics are kind of alarming. Candy generally unhealthy due to their sugar content. Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to heart diseases, obesity, weight gain, and type II diabetes. Aside from its toll on general health, sugar is an enemy of your teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar, which then leads to cavities and other oral-related problems.
Consuming chocolates, candies, and gums may yield worse results, especially when an individual is under orthodontic treatment like dental braces. Because of the metal brackets, sugar can find more spaces to stay within the proximity of your teeth. But the need to bite into that milky chocolate and get a taste of the sweet strawberry-flavored candy is irresistible. So, instead of fully eliminating candies, chocolates, and gums permanently from your diet, you can other options.
Have Braces? Stay away from Gooey, Sticky, and Hard Candies
Eating gooey, sticky, and hard candies can damage or even break off parts of braces. Candies like jawbreakers, lifesavers, gumdrops, caramels, and other similar treats can be especially harmful to children’s braces.
Take Extra Precaution when Eating These Candies
- Gooey & Sticky: Sticky sweets are certified, cavity-causing culprits. Caramel and taffy can easily get stuck in the grooves and pits of the teeth, making it hard for saliva to break them down. The longer the sweets remain stuck in the teeth, the greater the likelihood of developing cavities.
- Gummy & Chewy: Extra-chewy or gummy sweets are sticky; hence, they stay on the teeth longer, and they become stuck on the teeth and expose them to more damage.
- Hard: Sweets you hold and suck in your mouth are bad because they stay in the mouth for more extended periods. This exposes the teeth enamel to sugars and acids longer. Furthermore, breaking or chewing on hard sweets can cause tooth and/or enamel damage.
- Sour: These contain high amounts of malic, fumaric, and citric acids, which are all regarded as a few of the significant contributors of tooth enamel damage. In excess, sour candies can also cause oral sores.
Eat full, well-balanced, healthy meals
The healthier one eats, the harder it is to crave sweet, sugary pieces of candy. Eating full meals means being less hungry for sugary snacks afterward. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals means stronger, healthier teeth, gums, and general oral health.
If you find yourself munching on candy because you’re hungry throughout the day, instead drink a glass of water first. Sometimes when we are dehydrated, we’re simply thirsty. If within a half hour or so, if you still feel hungry, eat an apple, banana, celery sticks, or another healthy snack to avoid your sugary temptation.
Only consume candies in small amounts at designated times
It is best to extend the amount of time between eating candy. Eating a piece of candy every hour only ensures your teeth are consistently exposed to the harm of your sweet treats.
Avoid allowing children to snack on candy throughout the day. You have many other satisfying, healthy snack choices on hand to give your kids, such as veggies, cheese, fruits, yogurt, and peanut butter.
Opt to eat Halloween candy after consuming a meal
Because saliva production is most active during and after consuming a meal, eating candy during these times is ideal since the saliva production is already up and running.
Saliva helps break down food particles and wash away excess oral bacteria and particles harmful to the development of cavities and other oral-related problems. This is especially important when you eat sugary foods, oral bacteria’s favorite substances to feed on and multiply off.
Use candy as a reward system instead of as a snack
The problem with both children and adults is that they see candy as something they can consume whenever they feel like it. However, candy should be seen as a reward system. After finishing homework, children can be rewarded with a piece of candy or two. After cleaning the dishes, coming home from a long day of work, running a mile, or completing household chores, a piece of candy may also be rewarded.
The point is, candy isn’t something that should be eaten whenever, wherever. Let it be a treat as it’s intended to be.
Strictly limit your consumption of candy
The obvious way to avoid oral-related issues related to sugary substances is to cut back on or completely avoid the consumption of candy altogether. This, of course, won’t be ideal for most people, especially when it comes to holidays. Therefore, a limitation of the amount of candy consumed is often much easier.
Take note of how much candy you’re consuming. One piece can easily become ten pieces in just a matter of minutes. Not only is this harmful to the body in excess, but it also increases your chance of dental problems in the near future.
Thoroughly brush your teeth shortly after eating candy to avoid overindulgence
Besides reducing the chance of cavities, brushing your teeth after eating a piece of candy or two means you’ll crave candy less after brushing. This is because components of toothpaste make it to where sugary foods and drinks taste bitter and often unpleasant right after brushing.
Plus, with fresh breath and a freshly-cleaned mouth, most wouldn’t want to ruin the new sensation by placing a sweet, strawberry lollipop in their mouth. Mixed with the taste of minty toothpaste, candy doesn’t taste the same.
Take extra care of your pearly whites
After all that sugar consumption, your oral health will appreciate a little boost. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing after meals, and rinsing the mouth out with mouthwash twice a day is highly recommended.
Schedule a dental appointment after Halloween time to ensure things are still in order
After a long few weeks or even months of consuming candy, take your child to have a checkup and cleaning at the dentist.
Cavities or other oral-related issues can be spotted and treated now before problems worsen. Additionally, your child can have their teeth thoroughly cleaned of plaque and other harmful oral bacteria for a fresh start before Thanksgiving comes around the corner.
4 Halloween Alternatives for Better Oral Health
Luckily, there are many fun trick-or-treating alternatives for those who have orthodontic devices, who are very young and sensitive to the oral effects of sugar, or those who simply want a healthier set of pearly whites this upcoming holiday.
Pumpkins are in season, so why not have fun with pumpkins? This may mean pumpkin carving contests with family and friends, pumpkin painting, or even pumpkin throwing games.
Another great pumpkin-related activity is to scoop out the pumpkin seeds, wash them thoroughly, and roast them in an oven. Adding different spices and herbs, such as garlic powder, cayenne powder, or paprika, can take pumpkin seeds to a whole new level. Even better, pumpkin seeds are great for bone and tooth formation, giving your pearly whites a little extra boost!
Spooky photo booth
Halloween’s all about dressing up, so a photo booth with friends and family can really make Halloween a holiday to remember. Dress up in different costumes, including previous years’ costumes or homemade costumes, and make a fun Halloween backdrop. Have fun taking pictures with silly faces, poses, and props. These will be great to look back on.
Also, consider having a Halloween costume-making contest to see who can make the best-looking costume within a given timeframe. Make this contest challenging by only allowing players to use toilet paper or felt paper and tape to come up with a costume. Recycled newspaper works well too. There’s sure to be lots of laughs!
Horror movie night
Opt for a relaxing Halloween night with horror or other Halloween-themed movies or TV shows. Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin, Monster House, and The Nightmare Before Christmas are great Halloween-themed options for kids.
For adults or older children/teenagers, scarier options may be more exciting. Other Halloween-themed shows on Food Network and other television programs may also be great picks for a candy-free Halloween night.
Healthier holiday foods
Who said Halloween only consisted of sweet, sugary treats? Make Halloween your own by offering family or guests fun, healthy alternatives, whether the foods are Halloween-related or not. A build-your-own-pizza bar is one great alternative. Also allow your kiddos to play with their food for this one night by shaping or arranging their food into Halloween-themed shapes such as ghosts, pumpkins, or spiders.
Food carving, arranging, or shaping contests are also fun! For older kids or for the whole family, pair up in teams, or singularly if preferred, to cook up a meal. Have a judge or set of judges to announce the winner(s) of the best meal. Competition is always fun!
10 Healthier Halloween Treats
Stretch Island Fruit Co. Fruit Strips
For a sugarless, fruit-filled snack, go for delicious fruit strip snacks from Stretch Island Fruit Co. You can buy packs containing large quantities of these individually wrapped snacks to ensure you’ll have enough to go around.
These strips contain natural sweetness offered from the fructose of the fruit with no need for added sugar. They’re very tasty too!
Cheesy Jack o’ Lantern Sandwich Thins
If you need a cute and healthy food idea for a party or to include in your child’s school lunch on Halloween, cheesy sandwich thins shaped liked Jack o’ Lanterns are perfect. Simply take a sandwich thin, shape the top layer of the sandwich bread with a Jack o’ Lantern face, and add orange/yellow-colored cheese in between. Grill if you’d like for a delicious grilled cheese version.
Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies
While they may not be Halloween-themed or sweet in flavor, Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies are created with natural, all-real ingredients. These cheesy bunnies appeal to kids and adults of all ages and are perfect to pass out on Halloween night or give to children at Halloween parties.
Mini Boxes of Raisins
Surely, your child has brought home a box of raisins or two, of course, alongside their bucket-full of candy, after a long night of trick-or-treating. While some kids may think raisins are gross, others love these naturally-sweet snacks. They’re so much healthier than pieces of candy, that’s for sure!
Squeezable, spoon-free applesauce pouches are available in various brands and are individually sealed to pass out to kids. They’re tasty, children love to slurp them, and they offer a fun flavor for fall. Plus, who doesn’t love a healthy serving of applesauce?!
Snack-o’-Lantern Fruit Cups
Sure, fruit salad isn’t the most cutting-edge of all party desserts, but you can give it a cool, creative spin by serving it in hollowed-out orange with a Jack-o’-Lantern face! You may also wish to make a fruit kabob with festive, orange fruits (e.g., orange citrus, cantaloupe).
To entice every guest, you can prepare frozen banana mummies without the addition of nuts, eggs, gluten, soy, and dairy. For this recipe, you will just need cocoa butter, bananas, and coconut sugar. Coat the bananas in cocoa butter, then dust them with coconut sugar and freeze overnight.
Children will gasp in delight at adorable strawberry ghost treats. Double boil a bag of white chocolate chips (and throw in a few drops of orange food coloring if you’re feeling festive), then put it in a regular Ziploc bag with the corner cut off, and pipe your favorite Halloween-themed designs on your strawberries. After a few minutes in the refrigerator, this spooky take on the chocolate strawberry will be ready to consume!
Creamy, Deconstructed Fruit Salad
Stay away from overly-sugary treats and go for one that’s healthy and delectable. Top sliced pineapple or oranges with whipped cream to maximize your daily intake of Vitamin C (and to add a dollop of extra sugary goodness without going over the top).
Keep your eyes peeled for other Halloween-themed treats, toys, and recipes!
Stores like Target are bound to have plenty of Halloween snack alternatives on one of their Halloween aisles such as Jack o’ Lantern-shaped pretzels, ghost-shaped veggie chips, and other healthy yet yummy bites. These make for perfect alternatives, and because they’re shaped in Halloween-themed figures, kids are more likely to consume these healthier snacks!
If you’re okay with going non-edible, you could also go for glow-in-the-dark bracelets, spider rings, fake eyeballs, sticky hands, mini rubber stamps, stickers, glow sticks, bubbles, and other tiny toys. These are also tooth-friendly, of course. Get creative!
Why is it valuable to eat healthy treats?
While nobody wants to spoil their child’s Halloween by saying candy is out of the picture, it’s still important to note how important oral health is.
Having good oral health and cleaning habits when they’re young is likely to stick with them throughout their teen years and beyond for a lifetime of healthy pearly whites. Always take the extra precautions to ensure your child’s teeth are where they need to be.
A well-balanced and nutritious diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity is the bedrock of good general health. Healthy eating constitutes eating heart-healthy fats, superior quality proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and water and minerals in the foods you consume while reducing saturated fats, processed foods, and alcohol. Eating healthier greatly helps the body’s daily functions, bolsters optimal body weight, and helps in preventing various diseases.
For healthy teeth and gums, it is a must to think before you eat. Always remember that it is not solely what you consume but also when you eat that can have an impact on your oral health, too.
Consume a balanced diet, and as much as possible, limit between-meal snacks. It is also very crucial to keep your doctor’s advice in mind when picking the foods you eat, especially if you are on a special diet. This way, you’re assured good general and oral health.