What You Should Know About Halloween Candy

pile of halloween candy, including Reese's, Milk Duds and Jolly Ranchers

Ghosts, vampires, pumpkins, and bags filled with trick-or-treat loot – it enough to give me the shivers! Especially when we think about the damage all those sugary-sweet treats will do to our patients’ teeth, both adult and child alike. It’s not just the kids who will enjoy those treats, parents too! 62% of parents admit to secretly eating their children’s candy.

Sweet treats are a big part of the fall season and the goal (or even the dream) of Halloween is to snag as much candy as humanly possible. But be careful not to overindulge! The main ingredient in many of the treats that your child will bring home in their pumpkin pail is sugar. While this is that part that makes it taste so delicious, it’s this same part that poses the most serious risk to teeth.

The Trick About Those Halloween Treats

Candies and other sweets are a nutritional concern because they are empty calories, but they’re also a dental concern because the sugar sticks to teeth. The bacteria in your mouth then feed on those sugars and thereby product acids that eat away at the teeth’s enamel, leading to tooth decay.

Here are some tips on how to handle Halloween so it doesn’t totally wreck your (or your child’s) smile:

  • Steer clear of sticky situations! The length of time that sugary foods stay in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Candies that stick, like taffy or gummies, take longer to be washed away by saliva and they increase the risk for tooth decay.
  • Set a treat time! Avoid snacking situations, as the repeated exposure to sugar will increase the amount of time sugar and harmful acids have to corrode the enamel of your smile.
  • It’s best to eat candy with meals or soon after. Saliva production increases during meals and helps to counterbalance the acids produced by bacteria in your mouth gorging on sugar.

Check out our blog post for more information about sugar and your teeth, as well as some suggestions on how you can protect your teeth from sugar.

Another Alternative

A big ol’ bowl of Halloween plunder is impressive and also tempting. If it’s there, the chances are it will be eaten. You can encourage your child to pick a certain amount of candy that they want to keep (some parents chose a number based on age) and give the rest away.

  • Soldier’s Angels partners with Halloween Candy Buyback and ships the donated candy to active-duty service members around the world or to veterans in VA Hospitals throughout the country.
  • Operation Gratitude also sends donated candy to troops. They’re trying to break last year’s record, when they collected 533,891 pounds of candy! Help them reach their goal this year.
  • Call your community’s local retirement or nursing homes, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. Many will take unopened Halloween candy for residents and visitors. Make to call first and check if the accept treats!

Enjoy some candy in the spirit of the season, but keep moderation in mind. Even then, remember to brush and floss soon after.

Do you have more dental health questions?