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With Halloween just behind us, your children undoubtedly got their hands on of tons of candy–probably a little too much for most parents!
Saying no to candy altogether probably isn’t realistic, and it could be counterproductive, since we don’t necessarily want to make sweet treats forbidden fruit. After all, most dentists agree that a little bit of candy at this festive time of year won’t hurt, as long as we hang onto our good oral care habits. The most important thing is setting sensible limits and making Halloween a limited-time splurge rather than an ongoing extravaganza that lasts until the end of the year.
Donating candy is a great way to get sugary treats out of the house, and give children a sense of purpose rather than making them feel deprived. And what better cause to support than our service members serving abroad!
How to Donate Halloween Candy to Our Troops
For the past decade, NOVA Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics has offered a very successful candy buy-back program. We give our patients $1 per pound for up to 5 pounds of candy. Working with our wonderful partner, the Virginia Army National Guard unit in Leesburg, we deliver candy donations to be sent to troops deployed overseas. We also encourage our patients to write notes and draw pictures for the troops. These notes, pictures, and candy help provide troops with support, encouragement, our thanks, and a little reminder of home. They also help our child patients feel like they are involved in a great and selfless cause.
Which Candy is Better For My Children’s Teeth?
The bacteria in our mouths that cause tooth decay feeds on sugar. But at this festive time of year, sugar seems to be all around most families. The good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize damage and allow your child to fully enjoy the Halloween without hurting their teeth.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has some great guidelines on choosing candy for Halloween. Some parents may be surprised–and even thrilled– to learn that chocolate is one of the best choices. It’s easier to remove from your teeth than other candies, and dark chocolate has a lower sugar content than milk chocolate.
ADA dentists say that sticky and gummy candies tend to be the worst for teeth since they are harder to remove after eating. The ADA also advises parents to watch out for hard candies as they can break teeth and stay in the mouth for longer periods, allowing sugar to get into saliva and coat the teeth. The acidity in the increasingly popular sour candies can also be a problem as it wears down enamel. So encourage your kids to save those Hershey bars and ditch the lollipops!
More Tips For a Healthy Halloween
Here are some additional tips from the ADA for keeping Halloween as healthy as possible:
- Try to eat candy in conjunction with meal times. There’s more saliva in your mouth to wash away bacteria when you’re eating, so make Halloween treats dessert rather than a stand-alone snack.
- Don’t nibble on candy throughout the day. Limit treats to certain times of day.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary beverages. While Halloween treats are in the house, limiting sugar in other forms is important to avoid a sugar overload.
- Make sure to maintain your brushing and flossing routine. Keeping up with great oral hygiene habits is more important than ever during this sugar-saturated time of year. If your child hasn’t started flossing regularly, this is a great incentive to encourage a new habit! And consider adding in a mid-day brushing when possible.
Donate and Feel Great
The best way to keep Halloween candy from becoming an oral health nightmare is to limit the length of time the candy is in the house. In so many families, we see the Halloween bag hanging around until Christmas, which is simply just too long. Letting your kids pick their favorite candies and donate the rest is a drama-free solution. Donating candy to a great cause is the perfect way to get rid of extra candy and help children feel good about making a service member’s day.
Call NOVA Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics today to learn more about our great candy buy-back program!