Fall has brought us some golden leaves, softer sunlight and tons of candy. Already anticipation grows for a highly favored children’s holiday, Halloween.
As October begins at Dentistry for Children, and pumpkins arrive everywhere, the Halloween candy promotional campaigns are hitting parents fast and hard. Our blog will give you some ammunition to “hit back” and protect your children’s teeth without destroying all the fun and magic of the holiday.
The Candy Connection: Halloween Comes and Goes, But Parents Get the Dental Woes
As you stock up on sugary treats, Dental offices all over the country are stocking up—not on candy, but on dental supplies. At Dentistry for Children, we begin our annual cringe October 1.
This is our annual Halloween Horror.
- On the one hand, we know the children love the stories, costumes, candy and Trick or Treat traditions.
- On the other hand, we know this fun holiday provokes a huge spike in kids’ dental issues.
Candy Expenditure in the US for Halloween: 9 Billion Dollars!
We urge parents to remember that free access to the children’s trick or treat haul will cost them far more in dentistry than the initial price of the candy itself. Halloween treat times will be responsible for cracked teeth, broken crowns, and of course, extensive cavities.
We all know the secret: Candy and its main ingredient, sugar, is the real monster behind Halloween horrors.
Yet, if only we could control our children’s sugar intake, Halloween would not be such a bad holiday. Each year Americans spend nearly $9 billion on candy. All of that sugar gets annealed onto and in between the teeth of the 41 million trick-or-treating American children, ages 5 – 14.
All Candy Does Not Carry an Equal Threat of Dental Danger
However, the AAPD wants parents to know that when it comes to keeping children’s teeth healthy, not all treats are equally threatening. As the days of October fly by, we will bring you weekly information on the worst candies to offer your little ghosts and goblins. Likewise, we will let you know about some delicious alternatives.
During each week of October, we will reveal the true nature of a Halloween candy that is particularly dangerous for your child’s dental health. Perhaps Dentistry for children can minimize some of the danger by educating you parents about candy. Different types of candy cause various degrees of damage to teeth.
Given a choice, and if we must stock some Halloween treats, why not choose the candy that will cause the least harm to our children’s teeth? We’ll start by telling you which treats to avoid the most.
Snickers Candy Bars: A Dental Professional’s Nightmare
Honestly, if you had told us that some black-hearted, diabolical inventor created the Snickers bar just to destroy teeth, we would believe you. With 27 grams of sugar, it tops our list as the worst candy offender of the holiday.
The treat bar is packed with greasy chocolate, tooth-chipping peanuts, sticky caramel, and clingy nougat. When eaten, this bar has 266 calories packed full of dental problems. Furthermore, 37 percent of those calories are fat.
The AAPD states, “Think a fun-size bar won’t be too terrible? Think again: the tiny version of the treat still has 8.5 grams of sugar. Add in some tooth-cracking peanuts (specially designed to pop orthodontic brackets off of teeth!) and you’re bound to run into dental problems.”
Candy and the Decay Cycle of Tooth Destruction
Let’s review the cycle of tooth decay in order to understand why the sticky nature of this particularly favored treat is so destructive to teeth.
1. Everyone has streptococcus, in their mouths. It is a naturally occurring oral bacteria.
2. These bacteria, which our young patients call “sugar bugs” crave sugar, and they feed on it.
3. As the bacteria eat, the sugar is broken down into acids.
4. The acids eat tooth enamel.
5. Likewise, the acids lower the pH level of the mouth. Thus, this is how kids who love sweets become much more vulnerable to high rates of dental caries and tooth enamel erosion.
To help ward off cavities, Dentistry for Children joins the quest of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the leading authority on children’s oral health.
Our mission this season is to remind parents, caregivers and older children, to watch out for certain types of Halloween treats.
Here is what is so bad about caramel. “The longer teeth are exposed to sugars, the longer cavity-causing bacteria have to feed on them.”
Caramel and gummy or sticky candies adhere to teeth and will not go away quickly.”
If you must give candy, “Instead of gummy, sticky clingy treats, offer children treats that melt and disappears quickly – like chocolate.” AAPD past President Dr. Robert Delarosa. He adds, “And always make sure children brush and floss their teeth before going to bed.”
Next week we will be bringing you more information about other candy to avoid. Plus we’ll bring you some fun-loving hints about making Halloween safer for your child’s teeth.