Taking the time to help kids make wise choices and limit candy consumption this Halloween can make a difference, especially as pediatric dentists notice tooth issues as we emerge from this pandemic.
“We have seen a lot of cavities get worse. We’ve seen a lot of kids who might not develop cavities, have cavities,” said Dr. Mira Albert, founder of Brush Pediatric Dentistry in Hinsdale and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
However, collecting candy through tricks or treats is easily every kid’s favorite part of Halloween, and that includes sisters Harper and Everly Campbell. “Last year, my candy or candy bag almost broke because we had too many,” Harper said. “We’re going to be using pillowcases this year,” Everly said.
Seven- and nine-year-old girls know what candy they’re hoping to catch this Halloween. “I like Kit Kat, Skittles and M&Ms,” Harper said. Everly’s favorite is Sour Patch Kids.
There is, however, bad news for children. Dr. Albert says these Sour Patch Kids tights are among the worst for children’s teeth. “Not only does it stick to the teeth, but the reason they’re sour is because of the amount of acid in the candy, so it’s kind of a double doozy on the teeth,” Dr. Albert said.
On Halloween, kids eat an average of more than 16 times the daily sugar recommendation, according to the National Retail Federation, which equates to about three cups of raw sugar.
Some families think they’ll help by handing out granola bars or pretzels instead of candy, but Dr. Albert says those snacks aren’t better for kids’ teeth. “Anything that sticks stays in the mouth longer and gives the bacteria that cause tooth decay, the monsters of the mouth as we like to call them, more opportunity to cause cavities,” Dr. Albert said.
If you still haven’t stocked up on your Halloween materials, Dr. Albert recommends sugar-free gum or dark chocolate as the best options for kids.
And when it comes to how much candy is too much? “Keep it for a day or two. Let them go crazy. We don’t want to ruin Halloween, but get rid of it if you can,” Dr. Albert said. Families can donate extra candies to Treats for Troops or bring them to your workplace to share with co-workers.