Parents, The Dangers Of Halloween Candy

health_teethWhen Halloween looms on the calendar, some parents harbor concerns about the safety of trick-or-treat candy offered by strangers. However, if there is a documented danger associated with this “spooky” time of year, it doesn’t spring from creepy psychopaths tampering with candy – it’s the sugar contained in the treats themselves that makes them a foe of healthy teeth.

Not-so-sweet facts about sugar and Halloween

Candy consumption skyrockets around Halloween. According to a recent study by the NPD Group, which does market research on eating trends, nearly every child in America and half of all adults will eat candy on Oct. 31, compared with about a quarter of the American population doing so on an average day.

While it may seem that candy is an integral part of the holiday for children, just as much as dressing up in costume, adults who have no intention of celebrating Halloween in any other fashion often take advantage of extra candy set out at workplaces. And many parents help their children “weed out” extra trick-or-treat candy by saving it for themselves!

All of this trick-or-treat indulgence, by both kids and adults, leads to dental problems down the road. To give you an idea of the role that sugar plays in promoting tooth decay, in Nigeria, where there is very little access to sugar, the rate of tooth decay is 2 percent; in the United States, it is 92 percent.

Tips for helping your family have healthy teeth during Halloween

It is possible to strike a healthy balance between Halloween fun and dental self-care. If you have children, remember that keeping their baby teeth healthy matters just as much as encouraging good care of permanent teeth. Help your children brush and floss regularly, make regular dental appointments for them, and offer healthy snacks such as fresh vegetables, fruit, cheese, yogurt, or peanut butter. Monitor their Halloween candy consumption and limit them to eating one or two pieces per day.

It also helps if you’re a good role model for your children in terms of dental habits. Keep up with your own daily brushing and flossing, watch your own consumption of candy, and reward yourself with non-food treats when you want to celebrate something.

“Sugar is ‘public enemy number one’ for healthy teeth,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix. “During Halloween season, take steps to limit its role in your family’s festivities.”

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