Kids (and let’s face it, adults, too) are getting excited for Halloween and all the delicious candy that comes along with it. Of course, you don’t want to ruin their fun, but you worry about their health and their teeth.
We all know the sugar in candy causes tooth decay and cavities. However, most health professionals and dentists agree that the occasional indulgence is okay, especially when you have good health and dental habits overall.
When it comes to Halloween, there are a lot of choices. And, surprisingly, some Halloween treats aren’t that bad at all!
Best and Worst Halloween Candy for your Teeth
We’ve ranked categories of Halloween treats from best to worst. When choosing which candy to hand out for Halloween and which choices to encourage your kids to make, consider the best or better options listed here.
Best: Non-Food Items
While we know they are not as tasty, non-food toys are one excellent option. These types of treats do not have to be boring! Little kids especially love stickers, bubbles, and glow sticks, just to name a few. Temporary tattoos, Play-Doh, and small toys bought in bulk are other possibilities and these last a lot longer than a snack.
Good: Healthy Snacks
The healthiest snacks like fresh fruit and crunchy raw veggies are not realistic options for handing out on Halloween. Of course, stock up on these options and encourage your kids to enjoy them on a regular basis.
If you are looking for a healthy choice on Halloween, there are a couple of possibilities. Pouches of unsweetened apple sauce or no-sugar-added juice boxes are creative alternatives. After all that hard work trick-or-treating, kids may welcome a refreshing drink!
Wait, did you read that right? Plain dark or milk chocolate is actually not as bad as you might think. While it does contain a lot of sugar, plain chocolate melts easily in the mouth. As a result, it does not stick around as long as other candies and snacks, which is what contributes to the bacterial reaction that causes tooth decay.
While we don’t recommend binging on chocolate, a small amount, followed by a sip of water to help swish it away, is not the worst choice when compared with some other options.
Bad: Crunchy Snacks
You may also be surprised to find out that certain non-candy snacks are not too great for teeth. Pretzels, chips, and popcorn can get stuck between teeth. This goes for chocolate with nuts or crunchy pieces inside. The starch converts to sugar and feeds bacteria.
If you enjoy these treats, swish with water after or use a toothpick or floss to gently remove stuck-on debris.
Worst: Sticky or Hard Candy
Taffy and caramel are the worst offenders, while lollipops and hard candies are a close second. These sweets are packed with sugar and stick to the surface of your teeth and in between teeth. When it comes to decay and cavities, sugar sticking around is something you want to avoid.
Enjoy Halloween While Staying Healthy
Some evidence links overly-restrictive dietary practices to overindulgence. Cultivating good habits over time while allowing the occasional treat might be a better strategy.
If you can choose the better options on our list to enjoy this Halloween and on other special occasions, then do so and enjoy! But be sure you and your kids continue with good habits, such as brushing twice a day and getting your twice-per-year dental check-up on time! If it’s been a while since your last visit, schedule your cleaning and check-up today!