Have Your Candy and Eat It Too: Dental Health Tips for Halloween
By Dr. Mariliza LaCap
The fall season has arrived! The dropping temperatures and shorter days are undeniable signs the holiday season is right around the corner. Halloween marks the starting point of this annual season of sweets. The next few months will likely include an increase in the consumption of sweets and other treats, and therefore, more dental cavities. However, Halloween should not be a time of worry for parents.
Use Halloween as an opportunity to teach kids good dental health habits, including consumption of sweets in moderation. Here are some reminders and helpful hints to ensure you and your kids have a healthy and fun Halloween:
- Give out healthier treats. Avoid giving trick-or-treaters candies that are sour (high in acidity, which erodes tooth enamel), sticky or chewy (leaves sugars directly on the teeth for prolonged periods) or hard (choking hazard for young kids and can cause tooth damage). There are many options for healthy snacks including things like cereal bars, pretzels or granola bars. Even a plain chocolate bar is a better option than sour, sticky or hard candies.
- Perform the “safety check.” Take a look when your child returns from trick- or-treating to ensure there are no dangerous items in their collection. Include your child in this process to explain the decisions you make and allow them to learn good habits.
- Sort it out. Encourage your child to eat the healthier treats and avoid hard, sour or chewy candies like jawbreakers or caramels. These candies have high acidity and/or stick to the teeth longer, which can cause more damage.
- Limit availability. Candy should be enjoyed, but moderation is important. Have your child choose 15 or so of their favorites and remove the rest.
- Brush-up after consuming. Set a specific time of day for candy consumption and then have your child follow-up by brushing his or her teeth. This is much healthier than allowing your child’s teeth to be continuously exposed to sugary or acidic treats throughout the day.
- This halloween, teach your kids the value of giving back by donating their excess Halloween candy in support of U.S. Troops and First Responders. Your kids can bring their Halloween candy and handwritten letters of gratitude to participating dental offices such as ours. We also be giving the candy to local homeless shelters and nursing homes.. In our office, when your child brings in the Halloween candy to our office, your child will get $1 per pound and a ticket for a chance to win $25 Amazon gift card. More than 100 tons of candy have been collected over the years. It’s a win/win for everyone involved!! Our office is located 140 Oak Tree Road, Tappan NY SmileMoreDentist.com.
- Though this Halloween is a great opportunity to start employing these practices, don’t stop there! Continue to follow these recommendations throughout the year so your children can develop good dental hygiene habits while still enjoying their treats in moderation.
- With all that in mind, don’t forget to brush, floss and routinely visit your dentist for check-ups. Remember, good oral health is a major contributor to overall health, so developing good dental hygiene habits will help ensure a long and healthy life for both you and your children.
I am Dr. LaCap, founder and CEO of Washington Dental Associate, Smile More Dentistry, and Smile More Kidz. My parents could not afford the dental care my brothers and I needed when I was growing up. I would go to school with dental pain, making it very difficult for me to focus on doing well at school.
I was a happy child and my parents did their very best to keep us safe and healthy. Sometimes people just need a helping hand. And that is what happened when I was growing up…. Someone gave my family a helping hand. A dentist opened his door to our family and provided me and my brothers with free dental care. He was kind and gentle. What a difference it made for me as a child to be free from dental infection and pain.
Experiencing firsthand how much someone’s kind gesture can make a difference in a child’s life motivated me to do more and pay it forward as an adult. I believe everything happens for a reason, and my experience as a child motivates me to help children in any way I can. Whether it is volunteering as a scout troop leader, class mom, confirmation teacher, or a dentist providing free dentistry in our office or on a Mission trip to a third world country.
I invite you to be part of our journey to provide dentistry from the heart, whether through volunteering or donations.
What we believe
For the past 30 years, our office has donated over $200,000 of dental work for children and adults.
Our office absolutely believes in the power of not just giving back, but paying it forward. Dr. Tong and I have been blessed with so much. We are able to work with a great team and wonderful patients. We truly love what we do. Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our hearts to the world occupied by the needs of others. Children hold a special place in our hearts, as we have 5 children of our own. Most of the charitable work we do has to do with children.
It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. ~ALBERT EINSTEIN
Nominate A Child for Free Dental Care
Smile More Kidz is currently accepting nominations of children for our 2023 “Give Kids a Smile” month this February. In order to be considered as a qualified applicant, the child must be between the ages of 3-12. The family must be in need of financial help or is having financial difficulties in maintaining the dental health of their children.
We want to spread the word of paying it forward.
If you know of a child who meets these requirements, we encourage you to please nominate them below. Once the nomination is completed, someone from our office will be contacting you shortly to go over the information. We ask that you receive permission from the child’s parents prior to completing the form. If your child needs help, we will call you directly.