How to help children avoid the dental pitfalls of Halloween

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:49

    All Halloween candy is not equally scary. That was one of the findings in Delta Dental Plans Association’s national 2011 Tricky Treats survey of more than 250 dentists. The survey results included advice for parents on how to minimize the oral health hazards of this popular holiday. Delta Dental’s 2011 Tricky Treats survey revealed that chewy treats and hard candy are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down. This can lead to plaque and decay. Sweets like chocolate are preferable. They quickly dissolve in the mouth, reducing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. Of the dentists surveyed, nearly one out of four dentists said they do not hand out anything on Halloween, while 5 percent attack the holiday head on by giving out toothbrushes. Still, 60 percent indicate that they give out candy. But, significantly, of those who hand out candy, 79 percent choose chocolate. The survey also showed that some dentists actually view Halloween as a good opportunity to educate parents and children about the importance of sound oral health habits. “With proper portion control followed by good oral hygiene, Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children to enjoy and learn more about the importance of a healthy smile,” said Douglas B. Keck, D.M.D., M.S.H.Ed., Connecticut-based pediatric dentist and participating Delta Dental dentist. “Monitor the type and amount of candy your children eat,” said Suzy Press, D.D.S., a New Jersey pediatric dentist and participating Delta Dental dentist and spokesperson in Delta Dental of New Jersey’s Halloween and Oral Health video. “Make sure they drink plenty of water afterward along with brushing and flossing.” Delta Dental offers these other tricks for dealing with Halloween treats: Don’t buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge. Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy. Encourage kids to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting immediately followed by a thorough tooth-brushing or at least a glass of water. Promote good oral health care habits year-round to your children by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, and getting regular dental checkups. To learn more about what dentists give out at Halloween and get their best advice for keeping kids’ teeth healthy, visit