Dr. Michael Handler

Top Tips to Reduce Dental Cavity Risks at Halloween

By Dr. Michael Handler

It’s almost Halloween, and in spite of Covid-19 still affecting our lives, thousands of Ontarians are planning to enjoy the event in the safety of their own homes and family circles. Since Halloween inevitably includes candy, you have even more reason than usual this year to try and limit the damage to your children’s dental care. 

Here are some of the ways you can have your candy and eat it, while reducing the risk of cavities and the need for a dentist visit!

Skip the Hard Stuff

Hard candies and lollipops are almost as hard as your children’s teeth, and are notorious for causing damage to tooth enamel. Biting into one at just the wrong angle can crack or fracture an entire tooth or injure a child’s gum tissue. At the very least, cracks and chips can develop into painful cavities in the mouth. At worst, any of these scenarios can allow bacteria to enter the tooth pulp or tissues and cause an oral infection. 

Avoid Chewy Candies

Those delicious caramel chews, gummies and fruit snacks are some of the worst treats for oral health. They can do particular damage if they get stuck between the teeth, and they also adhere to the grooves on the surface of the tooth enamel. This makes it difficult for your tongue and saliva to clean them away, and if some of the sugary residue remains it can cause long-term tooth damage. Cavities develop when bacteria feed on the residues, creating an acid that decays the teeth and leads to the need for tooth fillings

Make Savvy Substitutions

Your Halloween doesn’t have to be boring, though! Substituting sugary, chewy candy with savoury snacks like chips, crackers and pretzels can make a world of difference to your family’s oral (and overall!) health. Alternatively, swap out the candies for dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidants and very healthy. Even better, encourage your kids to choose toys or games over candy, or even a glass of milk with a healthy cookie.  

Add an Apple 

It’s no myth that apples are one of the healthiest things to eat. They are also considered natural toothbrushes, because eating one can help to clean out any hidden residues before the bacteria can develop. Even if you can’t avoid the consumption of candies entirely, adding an apple to the festivities can reduce the risk of cavities. 

Other fruits like citrus and kiwi fruit are rich in vitamin C, so they also help to promote healthy teeth and gums. Crunchy vegetables like celery and raw carrots increase the production of saliva, too, so in the absence of apples any of these are a good bet around Halloween. 

Boost Brushing Activities

November 1 is National Brush Day in Canada, according to the Canadian Dental Hygiene Association. It’s the ideal time to get your whole family involved in a new regimen of brushing twice a day for two minutes. Encourage them to brush using small, circular movements that will reach the gums, rather than brushing in a straight line that pushes debris from one tooth to another. Remember to include the tongue in brushing activity, because it tends to retain food and germs too. 

Combine the new brushing boost with other healthy practices like flossing and rinsing, and you’ll be laying a strong foundation for their future oral health. And coming right after Halloween, this enables you to get ahead of the effect of any candies that escaped your watchful eye. 

For more information on how to reduce your child’s risk for dental cavities, please book an appointment with our dentists in Scarborough at 416-267-4661, or click here to book online

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