Halloween Survival Guide

7 tips for a mouth-healthy Halloween

A child dressed for Halloween walking with a bucket

For many families, Halloween means bags of free candy and a chance to stockpile sweets for the winter. But this sugar-powered holiday can also trigger concerns about children’s dental health. How can you let your kids enjoy Halloween while preventing cavities later on?

Here are 7 healthy tips for Halloween and all year long.

1. Enjoy Halloween treats with meals

When it comes to sweets and your teeth, timing is everything. If you have a little candy with meals (or right afterward), you’ll benefit from the extra saliva your mouth automatically makes while you’re eating a full meal. This helps rinse away leftover bits of candy and the cavity-causing acids produced by bacteria in your mouth.

2. Don’t snack on sugar

Frequent snacking can boost your cavity risks, and it’s double trouble if you choose sugary treats like Halloween candy. If you need an energy boost, go for low-sugar options such as nuts, fruit, veggies or crackers. (Here’s how to read nutrition labels for total sugar content.)

3. Skip sticky or sour candies

Avoid hard candy and sticky, gummy sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. These can cling to your teeth, elevating cavity risks. Unless they’re sugar-free, it’s a good idea to skip these candies altogether.

Sour candies are high in dietary acids that attack the hard, protective coating on your teeth (enamel). They’re tasty, but they’re some of the worst offenders when it comes to tooth decay.

4. A little chocolate is fine

As sweet treats go, small amounts of chocolate are a decent choice. Chocolate is the most popular kind of Halloween candy and it doesn’t stick to your teeth as readily as other candies. If you like dark chocolate, that’s even better, since there’s less cavity-causing sugar in semisweet and dark chocolate than in milk chocolate.

5. Don’t keep a big stash of candy on hand

It’s tempting to keep Halloween or other holiday candy around, but your teeth will thank you if you don’t. Have your family pick their favorites and donate the rest. Organizations that send candy to troops overseas, like Operation Gratitude, will be glad to receive your extra supply.

6. Chew sugar-free gum with the ADA Seal

Enjoying sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating helps prevent tooth decay, because your mouth makes extra saliva as you chew. This cleanses away food and neutralizes cavity-causing acids (and freshens your breath, too). Look for brands that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

7. Choose fun giveaways that aren’t candy

At Halloween or anytime, the sweetest gesture might be a longer-lasting item like themed stickers, coloring books and crayons or pens and pencils. There are many great choices you can share with trick-or-treaters or party guests. (Keep in mind the age range of children you’re treating and have a few options on hand that are rated safe for toddlers or preschoolers.)

You’ll find more Halloween health and safety tips here.