Oral Health Spotlight

Halloween Treats that Will Scare Away – or Attract – Monster Cavities

Children will be decked out in costumes this Halloween – and they’ll also bring home bags filled with sugary chocolate, hard candy, gum, caramel and other cavity-causing treats.

But don’t be scared: Delta Dental of Illinois has advice on choosing the best kinds of candy to keep your child’s smile healthy during this spine-chilling season.

“Halloween is certainly a time to make sure children are keeping up with good oral health habits to avoid cavities,” said Dr. Sheila Strock, vice president, dental services and science officer, Delta Dental of Illinois. “Luckily, some treats are better for teeth than others.”

Knowing your neighbors are likely to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, Dr. Strock has ranked Halloween treats (from best to worst) that children – and parents, should they choose to dig into their kids’ stash themselves – can enjoy.

  • Sugar-free gum. The best Halloween treat for kiddos is sugarless gum. Chewing gum produces saliva, which prevents the mouth from getting dry and helps rinse away food particles that may stick to teeth.
  • Chocolate. Generally, dark and milk chocolate melt quickly and aren’t as harmful as other sugary candies. Watch out for candy bars with caramel or nougat fillings, which can hang around longer on teeth than chocolate itself.
  • Candy corn and gummies. These cute candies can get stuck between teeth. Brushing and flossing soon after consuming these treats can keep bacteria from causing cavities.
  • Caramel. Not only does caramel stick around on teeth for a while, it can also loosen dental fillings. No one wants to track down a dentist on Halloween!
  • Lollipops and jawbreakers. Designed to be sucked on, these treats expose teeth to sugar for a prolonged amount of time. If bitten, jawbreakers can also cause major damage to teeth.
  • Sour candies. The scariest thing on Halloween might not be a costume or a horror movie – it’s acidic, sugar-loaded candies like sours and tarts that wear down tooth enamel.

Like any celebration, Halloween should be a fun way to honor traditions – including snacking on candy. If you can’t resist avoiding some of the sweet treats listed above, here are tips to enjoy festivities while limiting the risk of tooth decay:

Eat a meal before trick-or-treating. Having a nourishing, healthy meal before heading out to collect candy will help kids be less tempted to dig into their sugary stash throughout the night.

Eat candy in small portions. Allow your children to have a few treats when they get home. A stomach ache from too much candy the morning after Halloween can be as spooky as any ghoul or monster.

Maintain a healthy routine. Make sure your kids brush and floss before they hit the hay on Halloween night.

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