It’s true – “healthy” may not be the first word you think of for Halloween, and it sure isn’t what your kids will be focused on in a couple of weeks. Still, there are some great alternatives to Halloween candy that they won’t even suspect are better for their teeth and, in many cases, their bodies. Take a look at these healthy Halloween treats, many which our Dobry Dental team has bought for our kids and trick-or-treaters. If you need more tips on dental health, we’d love to talk! Call our Clinton Township office at 586-210-6828 today.
Say Goodbye To These Tricks
Some patients find it surprising that we like candy and sweets just like you do. Of course, we know that moderation is the best policy, and maintaining good oral health practices is key to enjoying the occasional sweet. Yet there are a few options that just aren’t good for teeth – even dangerous, in some cases. We’ve seen more than our fair share of patients for cavities and even dental emergencies due to these:
- Sticky candy like gum and gummies
- Chewy candy like caramel, taffies, and fruit chew candy
- Hard candy like jawbreakers, lollipops, and toffee
- Sour candy like sour gummies or anything with acid in the ingredients
The truth is, these aren’t treats – they’re tricks! They can lead to cavities because the sticky sugars and acids are difficult to remove. This leads them to build up on teeth and in between teeth, especially those pits in back teeth, speeding up the decay process. For kids whose tooth enamel isn’t as strong as adults’ enamel – and their not so great job of brushing and flossing, this can be bad news. Bad news for their oral health and for your time and money to fix cavities.
Hard candy, of course, is a no-brainer. It’s pretty common for adults and kids to bite into it and crack or break a tooth. We’re experts at repairing teeth, but we’d rather not if we don’t have to!
Ditch these dental disasters if you can. Chances are, kids won’t even miss them with how much candy they’ll be bringing home! We have some tips below if you don’t give these up entirely, though.
Say Hello To These Treats – In Moderation
Not all candy is terrible for your teeth, and not all treats have to be candy. Although many of the items in the following list are starchy – which means the food debris is prone to getting stuck in teeth – it’s not nearly as harmful because it’s less sugary, less sticky, and less acidic. For the most part, your kids can enjoy these in moderation without you worrying about dental consequences.
- Individual packs of crackers, tortilla or multigrain chips, fat-free popcorn, or pretzels
- Small packs of trail mix and mixed dry fruit (watch for allergies with anything containing nuts, of course)
- Raisins, fruit leather, and other dried fruit snacks
- Yogurt-covered raisins and nuts
- Chocolate-covered raisins and nuts
- Small cereal boxes (not too sugary!)
- Animal crackers/animal-shaped crackers or graham crackers
- Peanut butter or cheese sandwich crackers
- 100% juice boxes
- Milk chocolate (solid/bars)
- Milk chocolate with crispy cereal or peanut butter, like peanut butter cups
You might have noticed many of these items are already on your grocery list for your kids’ snacks and lunches. That’s a good thing to keep in mind when you shop for these items. Many can be found at warehouse stores and natural food stores.
Say Yes To These Treats Anytime
There actually are some healthy Halloween treats you can feel confident about giving out or letting your kids indulge in. Think lower sugar and lower carb, and it might spark some other ideas for treats you can buy.
- Fruit like apples and bananas
- Kid-sized peanut butter or nut butter packs (again, for those without allergies)
- Dark chocolate (solid/bars)
- Sugar-free gum, especially containing xylitol, a sweetener proven to help fend off cavities
With fruit, remember to stick to the basics, and make sure the portions are not too big or too ripe. You might even decorate the oranges and bananas with Halloween stickers!
Say Yay To These Halloween Alternatives
Speaking of stickers, not every Halloween treat has to be edible. You can get Halloween candy alternatives that kids will actually treasure beyond the holiday. Here are a few examples, many of which can be purchased at dollar stores, discount stores, and party stores:
- Halloween-themed jewelry, like spider rings or skeleton necklaces
- Jewelry, especially if it glows or lights up
- Glow sticks
- Crafty items like mini drawing pads or activity pads, coloring books, markers, crayons, stamps, erasers, pencils, and pencil toppers
- Small toys like cars, balls, and stuffed animals
- Lip gloss/lip balm
- Mini games and puzzles
- Fake tattoos
- Fake mustaches
- Vampire teeth
- Popular trading and collecting cards
Stay Up-To-Date On Your Kids’ Oral Health
Truth be told, kids like going trick-or-treating for the candy. So when they do indulge in candy or other treats in their bag, keep these tooth tips in mind. (Hint: they apply all year!)
- Make sure your kids brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste for two minutes and floss once daily.
- Encourage your kids to drink water to rinse away food after eating.
- Help your kids sort through their treats and let them tell you which ones are OK to eat more often than others.
- Encourage them to eat any hard candy very carefully so they don’t damage their teeth.
- Decide beforehand how many pieces they can have each day. If your kids are tempted to eat the candy after bedtime or brushing their teeth, put it up after a certain time.
- Ask us if your kids could benefit from a store-bought flavored fluoride rinse, in-office fluoride treatments, or sealants for extra cavity protection.
Talk to your kids before Halloween to make sure they understand the importance of choosing foods that are good for their teeth. If they know this ahead of time, they’re more likely to make good choices for themselves or listen to any limits you set. It can help to make the discussion approachable and fun. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does a great job of this with their Mouth Monsters theme. You can even print off sheets for your kids to color while they learn about their smiles.
We hope we’ve given you some good ideas for healthy Halloween treats and Halloween candy alternatives. If you ever have questions about nutrition as it relates to your smile, or if your kids are due for dental checkups after the Halloween candy rush, call Dobry Dental at 586-210-6828. You can also reach out online. Remember, we’re here for all your smiles!