5 Tooth-Friendly Tricks for a Healthy Halloween
While it's a night for scary costumes, spooky games, and ghoulish treats, Halloween is also a terrifying time for teeth.
Published: 31 October 2023
As children plan their costumes for a night of trick-or-treating, many parents will be wondering if it’s possible to protect their family’s teeth from the ‘horrors’ of Halloween.
According to Nicola McIntosh, lead dental nurse at Clyde Dental Baillieston: “Most Halloween sweets contain high levels of sugar, which can ultimately lead to cavities and tooth decay.
“To protect your children’s teeth from long-term damage, it helps to be mindful of the type of sweet as well as the timing and frequency of sugary snacks. With some clever planning however, it is possible to limit the scary effects of Halloween treats on your family’s fangs!”
1. Choose Chocolate
“Good news for cocoa lovers as chocolate is actually one of the more tooth-friendly treats,” says Nicola. She continued: “Of course it has sugar but it’s softer on the teeth, melts quickly in the mouth and is easier to rinse out. Dark chocolate is preferable if your children like the taste, as it contains even less sugar.”
2. Sticky = Scary
Nicola says: “It’s not only the sugar content that is harmful, but also the stickiness which determines how long food stays on your teeth that can accelerate tooth decay. Try to avoid sticky lollies or sour gummies as these can stick in the grooves of your teeth and be more difficult to clean. I’d definitely recommend avoiding boiled sweets too, as not only are they a choking hazard for young children, but they have the potential to crack or chip your teeth.”
3. Restrict Treat Frequency
“It’s better to eat your goodies all at one time (unless you have buckets full) as opposed to snacking on them over the course of the day, as the more often you consume sugar the worse it is for your teeth,” says Nicola. “Indulging after lunch or dinner is less harmful as your saliva production increases during meals, which helps to rinse away the acids produced by cavity-causing bacteria,” she added.
4. Water, Water, Water
“Encourage your children to drink plenty of water to rinse away the sugar after eating. Swishing water helps to rinse out your mouth and dilutes any acids and sugars from sweet treats. If your child has any fizzy juice as part of their Halloween loot, using a straw (ideally a reusable one) helps to avoid dental erosion,” adds Nicola.
5. Back to Basics
Nicola says: “At Halloween, teeth are exposed to more sugar than usual so maintaining a basic dental care routine is key for the whole family. Always brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, for two minutes, twice a day and especially before bed. To help remove food and plaque from between the teeth and gums, make sure your children also floss before bedtime on Halloween to stop any bacteria haunting their teeth overnight!”
Nicola added: “Halloween has always been my favourite time of year and now as a parent, my wife and I encourage our children to make sensible choices while having fun. These tips aren’t just good for Halloween, they’re great for protecting teeth and beautiful smiles all year round!”
Nicola is a lead dental nurse with Clyde Munro, one of Scotland’s largest dental groups that operates across the country, providing routine and specialist dental services for NHS and private patients. Find your nearest dental practice here.