By Justin D’Ancona
Now that Hurricane Sandy has postponed Halloween for many towns, parents can use the extra prep time to monitor the types of candy their children eat and nudge them towards the “good” ones filling their pillow cases.
Let’s face it, no form of candy is good, and Halloween isn’t exactly the time to enforce a zero tolerance policy for sweets, but there are alternatives that are less dangerous for your kids.
“Sugar-free lollipops are best,” say Leonard Tau, D.M.D., of the Pennsylvania Center for Dental Excellence. “Plain chocolate is also good because it is easy to digest.”
Dr. Tau points to soft, sticky candies like caramel and gummy bears - his own personal Achilles’ heel - as the main culprits to dental problems. It’s easier for these types to get into the hard-to-reach crevices of our mouths and decay our pearly whites.
Hard candy is also to be approached with extreme caution, but whatever you do, do NOT commit the Cardinal Sin of hard candy consumption - chew it.
“We see more patients because of broken teeth this time of year than anything else,” Dr. Tau says.
His advice is to suck hard candy, even when it becomes that perfect little, itty bitty, bite-size morsel. That also helps combat any excess sugar that may be lingering in our mouths.
Don’t. Chew. Hard. Candy.
Just so we’re clear.
When you do eat the treats gathered from the postponed door-to-door pilgrimage, Dr. Tau gives an ideal time to consume the treats – after a meal because you have extra saliva. The surplus of saliva will help neutralize the acid found in candy and eliminate extra sugar.
Immediately after divulging in your sugary snacks you’ll want to brush your teeth to minimize the risk of cavities, but if you can’t get to a toothbrush, drinking a glass of water can be a quick fix. The h2o dilutes left over sugar and washes it from your teeth. Dr. Tau stresses if you don’t brush your teeth after initial consumption, make brushing and flossing a priority before bed.
The American Dental Association offers these general tips, as well:
- Drink more water, especially fluoridated water to help prevent tooth decay
- Chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals to produce excess saliva and neutralize acid
- Avoid beverages with added sugar such as soda, sports drinks or flavored water
- Adhere to the the 1-2-3s of good daily oral hygiene: Floss once a day, brush twice a day and eat three balanced meals a day.
When you’ve had enough of your sugar binge, you may be able to make a quick buck for your leftover candy.
Dentists are starting to participate in “Candy Buy Back” programs that offer money for your sweets. They’ll buy your candy and send it to deployed troops overseas.
To find participating dentists near you click here, Candy Buy Back.