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Dr. Shelley Shearer: Here are some suggestions for tooth-friendly alternatives for your Halloween fun

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As we look forward to all those miniature super heroes ringing our doorbells October 31, it’s time to consider what we drop into their bags that night.

There’s no question that excessive sugar can do harm to children’s teeth. As a dentist, I am often asked to rate the “safest” treats to distribute Halloween night. That is a tough one. Chewy candy, for instance, enables the bacteria in the mouth to burn the sugar, thus creating acid that dissolves tooth enamel. Then there’s the question of caramels. Be prepared for the delicious candy to adhere to teeth and worse, orthodontics.

Dr. Shelly Shearer

Certainly an alternative can be hard candy if you suck on it and not crush it with your teeth, right? Wrong. The yummy sour candy and traditional suckers can create even more acid build up leading to decaying tooth enamel. Creamy chocolate can at least dissolve quicker than other candies. Dark chocolate usually contains less sugar than milk chocolate and provides the bonus of anti-oxidants.
Still, no matter which candy is distributed, some immediate tooth brushing and flossing should be in the cards. There’s a reason that November 1 is National Tooth Brush Day.

How about considering some tooth-friendly alternatives to distribute this year?

 Glow sticks or glow necklaces are both fun and make little ones easier to spot crossing the street

 A small bottle of water can quench the trick-or-treater’s thirst and wash away the sugar that they inevitably consume during their journey

 Sugar-free gum actually stimulates saliva production which helps prevent cavities

 How about a goody bag filled with dollar store trinkets such as spider rings, bouncy balls, glowing buttons or orange bracelets?

 Stickers are always fun no matter what the season

 Last, think about some Halloween-themed items they can actually use at school—pencils, orange rulers, erasures in the shapes of Frankenstein or pumpkins, or miniature notebooks to write their thoughts with their new pencil

Making a conscious effort to maintain our children’s teeth is a win for the whole community.

Dr. Shelley Shearer is a graduate of the University of Louisville Dental School and Founder of Shearer Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Florence.

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