The Easter Bunny greets us every spring with eggs. Now everybody knows bunnies do not hatch eggs. However, bunnies, eggs and budding flowers bring us delightful spring greetings this time of year. Another thing that spring brings us is all kinds of Easter Bunny candy.
No, we cannot really blame the Easter Bunny for this onslaught of sugar. He does not hatch candy any more than he hatches eggs. Still, when the weather warms up and the spring buds appear, so do five rows of assorted candies in our local big box stores. (Really, five?)
How Do We Keep Off the Easter Bunny Candy Trail?
Yes, we of Dentistry for Children have to admit that, with the exception of softly colored hard-boiled eggs, the Easter bunny treats of spring dismay us. We cannot ignore the Caramel eggs and chocolate bunnies. Nor can we totally resist the jelly beans and lollipops in shiny spring colors. They greet us in the grocery store with their bright cellophane wrappers and foil lined boxes. Then we are also stunned with new packaging on old favorite brand-named treats, like Starburst and Sour Patch Kids.
And near all these treats have a nearby display elegant accessories. We can hardly resist the Baskets, ribbons, bags, tags and sparkly grass. Thus, the season of the Easter Bunny entices children to greet the spring with tiny but terrible treats.
Terrible? Yes, because at Dentistry for Children we see that too many such candies contribute to habits that cause painful damage to little teeth.
A Dental Warning from the Easter Bunny at Dentistry for Children
Dental decay is no fun for our little patients. And cavities are expensive for their parents. Although we don’t want to be party poopers, we have to caution little patients and their parents about the commercialized onslaught of Easter Basket temptations headed our way. Just as we send up red flags every Halloween, we must send out a red alert for the upcoming spring holidays.
The 2019 Easter Bunny’s Guide to Hatching Healthy Teeth
That being said, what can we do about the inevitable candy invasion? Dr. Jeremy Krell, DMD warns parents that it’s all about timing. He does not suggest giving a child one agonizing mini-jellybean at a time throughout a day. And there is logical science behind this.
Easter Bunny Treat Caution 1. Timing of the Treats
As the Director of Dental at Quip (an online source for dental care products), Dr. Krell says, “Frequent snacking on sugary sweets throughout the day will consistently expose teeth to sugar and create an acidic environment in the mouth, which can cause tooth decay…” And he said adds, “It’s best to enjoy a sweet treat in one sitting, followed by brushing and flossing with an anti-cavity fluoride toothpaste.”
So we thank Dr. Krell for that tip, because timing is also our first tip, just as it was when we wrote about Halloween Treats.
We do not mean to allow your child to eat his whole Easter Basket full of goodies at once. But a reasonable little binge, if it must happen, must be controlled. Our Easter Bunny Guide recommends 3-4 pieces chosen from the parentally supervised basket. Plus we recommend you give them this little treat with water, and time to brush and floss afterwards. This option is far preferable to sneaking a piece or two on the run for days until the basket is empty.
What is the Dental Secret to the Timing of Treats?
There are two reasons for this:
- Constantly getting reinforcement about the deliciousness of sugar builds a life-long habit for craving it. That is the problem with once-in-a-while kid treats.
- Sugar sets up an acidic condition in the mouth, which is exactly the perfect habitat for hungry little bacteria. Now we call bacteria “sugar-bugs” when we discuss them with our youngest patients just in case you do not know.
Easter Bunny Treat Caution 2. The Easter Bunny Guide to Avoiding the most Dangerous Candy For Children’s Teeth
Did you know that not all candy is the same in regards to dental danger? Once you understand all candy is actually bad for teeth, we think perhaps you should know there are some that are more damaging to children’s teeth than others: This leads us to our second alert.
- Condemn the Sticky candy: Sticky are the worst villain of all. They do the most damage to teeth because they get stuck in the cracks and crevices of teeth. Then the bacteria feast on the sugar all day. The bacteria actually excrete acid. When you finally get home from work and school and get around to brushing and flossing, you can get rid of the gunk. But the damage has already begun.
Acid has etched into the teeth, making way for decay. Even dried fruit can cause this.
So, if you are packing an Easter Bunny basket, minimize the sticky stuff, the caramelized stuff and the jellied stuff. These candies don’t stop doing harm to kids’ teeth until they are brushed and flossed down the drain.
- Avoid Any Candy Designed for Slow Consumption:
All day suckers and all giant day chocolate bunnies are a bad for dental health because their very nature demands a long time to eat. As noted above, the more you expose your teeth to sugars and acids, the more time the bacteria get to feast and excrete acids. That’s why dentists are saying that “sucking on lollipops or a baggy of Easter Bunny Jelly Beans all day does far more harm than eating the same amount of candy all in one quick sitting.”
Back Away from both the Gummy and the Sour Candies:
Something in the chemistry both gummy and sour candies is very acid. By nature candy these types of candies can be the most acidic, and as we have warned you, acid is very damaging to teeth. We hope that parents—as well as the Easter Bunny—please remember this point, year round.
The Easter Bunny’s Choice of Best Candy for Kids?
Ultimately the best of the Easter Candies are the smallest of the giant hollow eggs and bunnies made of chocolate. We hate to admit it but the marketers got this right—they seldom make the traditional big eggs and Easter Bunnies of anything but chocolate. (Extra note: Watch out for filled eggs—our Easter Bunny’s Guide only recommends the hollow ones.)
However, you still need to be aware that not all chocolate is the “healthy” kind. Check the sugar content and the cocoa ratio. (See about ratio below.)
Seriously, research has shown that some dark chocolate can actually provide strength to enamel. Some people think of it as very bitter, but if your children grow up on it, their taste buds “learn the difference and can appreciate this high-quality chocolate.”
The Easter Bunny Guide Presents: Dark Chocolate Facts
We thought parents would like to know just why dark chocolate is good for teeth. We all know there are three kinds of chocolate including, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. Of these three, manufacturers process the dark chocolate the least. It is the closest to the cocoa bean. That means it is the healthiest choice. Remember we said to check the label? If you are looking for tooth-friendly chocolate, try to find a dark chocolate that has a ratio of about 70 percent cocoa.
A Little More Chocolate Knowledge Recommended by the Easter Bunny’s Guide to Hatching Healthy Teeth
Since we say this is the best of the Easter bunny treats for your child, let’s examine chocolate a little more deeply.
“Cocoa beans contain tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids, each of which is a type of strong antioxidant that benefits your mouth and teeth.”
- Tannins imbue dark chocolate with a slightly bitter taste and deep color. “More importantly, they help prevent cavities by inhibiting bacteria from sticking to your teeth.”
- Polyphenols actually neutralize microorganisms that stimulate bad breath, gum infections and tooth decay.
- Flavonoids work to slow tooth decay, among other things.
Thus one of the best reasons chocolate is good for teeth is the anti-oxidants actually make it the easiest candy to remove with good brushing.
Likewise, we invite you to consider sweet stuffed animals or funny stickers for your children’s Easter Baskets. Our Easter Bunny Guide assures you such goodies will hatch delight for your child. He or she won’t even notice they take room in the basket, displacing at least some of the candy. And those little treats come without tooth decay, bad habits or calories. Thank you for reading the Blog from Dentistry for Children.