Halloween is a time of year when ghosts, ghouls, princesses and superheroes alike head out into their neighborhoods in search of scrumptious candy. It’s also a holiday that can wreak havoc on your oral health because of the volume—and type—of candy and sugar you are consuming. Whether you’re planning to dress up for a Halloween party, wondering what to give out this year, or just want to be prepared for when your kids bring home buckets of sugar, here are some tips to help you avoid oral health problems.
Best Halloween Candies for Your Teeth
While your dentist will tell you (correctly) that no candy is actually “good” for your teeth, there are some options that are less bad and should be selected when possible. That includes things like chocolate without sticky fillings or nuts, marshmallows, and softer cookies that won’t stick to your teeth (check out the recipe for a delicious pumpkin season treat below). Even if you avoid sticky treats, it’s important to realize that the sugar in candy feeds bacteria in your mouth, contributing to the buildup of plaque, so you should rinse your mouth with water and try to brush your teeth soon after consuming any sugar.
Worst Halloween Candies for Your Teeth
Sticky treats are by far the worst because they leave sugary nuggets in the deep grooves of your teeth where they are available for bacteria to feed on. That includes things like taffy, caramel, coconut and nuts. Other bad choices include hard candies like lollipops, jawbreakers, and Jolly Rancher™ candies, because they expose your teeth to sugar for a prolonged period of time while they are dissolving (which raises acidity levels in your mouth and damages tooth enamel). Plus, if you try to bite them, your teeth might even chip or break. Sour candies should be avoided because they are highly acidic, as well as candies like Pixie Stix® powder that provide straight sugar for the bacteria in your mouth to consume.
Individuals with braces should be especially careful about eating these treats. Make sure to speak with your orthodontist prior to Halloween to get a list of treats to specifically avoid because they can get stuck in and around the braces, causing decay and damaging the hardware in your mouth.
Healthy Candy Alternatives
If you plan on being home to pass out treats for trick-or-treaters, there are various healthy, non-candy alternatives you can give to those who come knocking on your door. Healthy alternatives include mini packages of raisins, pretzels, or crackers, which can be purchased at your local grocery store and are typically in Halloween-themed packaging.
For folks who want to avoid handing out any food items to trick-or-treaters, there are plenty of things available at a reasonable price. You could hand out pencils, stickers, erasers, slime, spider rings, mini coloring books, temporary tattoos, or plastic vampire fangs. You can find all of these in Halloween designs, and buy them in bulk at places such as Oriental Trading Company, U.S. School Supplies, and Amazon.com.
Check out this braces- and teeth-friendly recipe to enjoy for Halloween and the fall season:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. milk (whole)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. chocolate chips (mini)
- Combine pumpkin puree, sugar, vegetable oil, egg, milk, and vanilla; set aside
- Combine together all dry ingredients, except for chocolate chips; add to wet ingredients, combine well
- Stir in chocolate chips
- Bake at 350 °F for 10-15 minutes