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Halloween may look different this year, but candy is still spooky for your teeth

Posted on October 13, 2020 in Children’s Oral Health


ghost costume HalloweenWith only about half of Illinois families planning to take their kids trick-or-treating during the pandemic,1 Halloween may look different this year.

Illinois public health officials say the safest way to celebrate the holiday is at home. They offer recommendations online for those planning to trick-or-treat or attend other celebrations.2 Regardless of whether your little ghosts and goblins go house-to-house, there will still be plenty of candy available for kids and adults craving sweet treats this Halloween season.

Whether your children trick-or-treat this year or just enjoy some sweets at home, help protect their oral health. While a piece of candy can make just about anyone smile, try not to overindulge, and choose candy wisely – candy that melts easily is the best choice – and take special care by brushing and flossing afterward.

About 3 of 4 parents (74%) nationwide say celebrating Halloween this year will be even more important than usual, as they look to find safe ways to have fun and maintain normalcy for their children.3

Even socially distanced ideas for celebrating the holiday — from carving pumpkins to having a scavenger hunt, scary movie marathon or virtual costume party — will likely involve fun-sized candies that are synonymous with Halloween.

Take steps toward a tooth-friendly holiday

Cavities are a significant public health problem in Illinois, affecting more than 2 of 5 children.4 Although OK in moderation, candy can increase the likelihood of tooth decay. That’s because bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar from candy — creating acids that can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Here are some steps you and your family can take to lessen the chance of getting cavities while enjoying the holiday:

  • Celebrate in ways that don’t focus on sweets, such as doing crafts or carving pumpkins. Or dress up in costume, take pictures and have a virtual party with family and friends.  
  • Consider alternatives to candy, such as stickers, Play-Doh, glow sticks, temporary tattoos, bouncy balls or bookmarks — whether you're handing them out to trick-or-treaters or celebrating at home.
  • Choose candy that melts quickly, like dark or milk chocolate. Candy that melts quickly also washes away from teeth easily.
  • Drink more water. Studies show that drinking water more than three times a day can decrease the likelihood of cavities.5 And hydrating after eating sweets can help wash away sugar left behind.
  • Enjoy sweets with a healthy meal, which helps to neutralize sugar in the mouth and lessen their effect on teeth.
  • Brush twice and floss once a day. This is important for your oral health every day, but even more so after enjoying sweets.

For more tips on protecting your oral health, visit deltadentalil.com/oral-health.

1 Illinois Patch survey, https://patch.com/illinois/across-il/kids-will-trick-or-treat-parents-wary-illinois-patch-survey

2 Illinois Department of Public Health, http://www.dph.illinois.gov/news/illinois-department-public-health-issues-covid-19-halloween-festivities-guidance

3 The Harris Poll for National Confectioners Association, June 16-24, 2020, https://apnews.com/PR%20Newswire/2cd84c8ccc38c771d2eb08fa6905e399

4,5 Illinois Department of Public Health, “Healthy Smiles Healthy Growth 2018-19,” http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/publications/hshg-201819-report-final-2-21-2020.pdf