Halloween is an important tradition in Canada. Tens of thousands of people across the country celebrate by dressing up as their favorite spooky characters as they share tasty sugary treats throughout the night. Some people have parties while children trick-or-treat around the neighborhood.
It’s estimated that 600 million pounds of candy is purchased and 90 million pounds of Halloween candy is sold during the Halloween week. Both adults and kids increase their sugar consumption during this time. Studies suggest that the average trick-or-treating child consumes three cups of sugar (384 grams) on Halloween. This is 16 times the maximum daily recommendation of 25 grams.
As Hamilton’s favorite choice for pediatric dentistry – we understand that parents have concerns about the celebration. Many parents worry about the excess consumption of chocolates, cookies, and other sweets on Halloween night. When children consume sugar, it mixes with the germs in their mouth to make acid. This acid can erode the outer layer of the teeth and cause cavities.
On the other hand, parents certainly want their children to partake in the festivities. The good news is that you and your family can enjoy the event with the right precautions. A few days of extra sugar won’t affect the health goals of your family unless someone has a medical condition. The key is to avoid consuming treats in excess.
Here are a few steps you can take to enjoy Halloween more responsibly:
#1 Encourage Your Family to Have a Hearty Meal
Have a nice and healthy family meal before the festivities begin. Present a balanced meal of proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. Cook their favorite recipes to encourage them to eat. Even a protein rich-peanut butter jelly sandwich made with whole-grain bread can do the trick. While trick-or-treating can work up a sweat, children are less likely to overeat their favorite candies if their tummies are full.
#2 Set a Limit but Let Them Pick
Candy doesn’t usually expire soon. Remind your child that their candy will be waiting for them throughout the week. Set a daily limit but allow them to pick what they want to eat. If they only want to eat their favorite brand of candy on the first night, then let them. If your kids have a positive experience on Halloween, they’re more likely to follow your rules the following year.
If you’re going to be trick-or-treating with your children, then encourage them to accept one or two treats per house instead of many. This way your child won’t end up with too many sweets. If there’s still candy leftover a week after Halloween, then consider donating or repurposing the rest. You can give candy to a homeless shelter or a children’s hospital.
#3 Have Healthy Options Around the House
For celebrations at home, try some of these healthier options that are easier on the teeth:
- Instead of regular candy have sugar-free candy without sour and acidic flavors
- Instead of processed sour candy rolls and strips, try strips and ropes made of real fruit
- Have 100% juice boxes instead rather than soft drinks
- Rather than chips, candied popcorn, or Doritos, opt for pretzels, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, and seed snacks
#4 Think About Their Next Meal
Reduce sugary foods from the rest of their meals to rebalance their diets. For example, instead of the usual French toast, pancakes with maple syrup, fruit yogurt, or cereal for breakfast, offer them eggs and toast. Trade their granola bars at lunch for healthier options such as veggies and brown rice.
#5 Pay Attention to Oral Care
At Dentistry on 7th, we recommend that people clean their teeth twice a day, every day. However, this is especially important on Halloween because of everyone’s increased sugar intake. Remember, sugar can lead to plaque, tartar, painful cavities, and gum disease.
Make sure that your child brushes their teeth thoroughly with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste after they’ve eaten their candy before bed. Have them floss to clean candy caught between teeth.
Encourage them to consume water instead of sugary drinks. Water can wash away sugar and acid left behind between meals. It also boosts saliva production. Saliva not only neutralizes harmful acidic residue in the mouth, but it can remineralize a tooth’s protective surface.
#6 Don’t Miss the Dental Appointment
Every child should have regular dental checkups to ensure that their oral care is on track. At Dentistry on 7th, we can make sure that your kid is brushing their teeth correctly. We can also clean hard-to-reach areas of a child’s mouth.
We also keep an eye out for potential problems down the road. As Hamilton’s most trusted orthodontist – we can treat typical childhood problems such as misaligned bites. Orthodontic treatment is most effective in children because their jaws are still growing. We positively influence the growth of the jaw through dental appliances.
It’s important to treat orthodontic issues in childhood. Without treatment, a patient may suffer from pain in their jaw, ears, and neck, as well as trouble swallowing. Misaligned teeth can also greatly affect a child’s confidence. This may affect their performance at school. Misaligned teeth may also be harder to clean. This can be problematic during Halloween.
At Dentistry on 7th, we realize that many children feel apprehensive about visiting the dentist. That’s why we offer entertainment options to help children feel relaxed. If a patient is particularly anxious, we can use sedation or laughing gas. Our staff are experienced and passionate about treating kids. Some of our dentists have a special rapport with them.
Many parents worry about Halloween. After all, children consume a lot of sugar during this period. By following some of the tips we shared, you and your family can enjoy the celebration responsibly.
At Dentistry on 7th we recommend that you think beyond October 31st. The average child consumes nearly 100 grams of sugar a day. That’s four times the daily recommendation. By improving a child’s diet throughout the year, taking them regularly to a dentist, you can improve your child’s oral health overall.
Don’t worry if your child hasn’t seen a dentist in a while. It’s never too late. Call for an appointment today with one of our compassionate, professional, and highly trained dentists. Come and let our family take care of yours.