Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in the United States. It is easy to see why. There are no big familial obligations, there is little financial stress due to the fact that Halloween is not typically associated with gift-giving, and most people do not travel for the holiday. It is a budget-and-family-friendly holiday that is celebrated with the members of your community and usually only takes up a few hours of your time. Another reason for its popularity is because Halloween is, to children, a day filled with copious amounts of candy. While many dentists do not promote regular candy consumption, allowing your child to indulge in a few sweet treats on Halloween will not pollute his or her mouth with an array of cavities. With that being said, there are some tooth-friendly Halloween treats out there that can help cut down on overall candy consumption.
Sugar-free gum that is sweetened with Xylitol is nice to have on hand when Halloween rolls around. Not only does it help curb a sweet tooth, sugar-free gum stimulates the production of saliva in the mouth, which helps to wash away cavity-causing bacteria that may be stuck to the teeth. If there is some eating of candy during trick-or-treating, having some sugar-free gum on hand is always a good idea.
A treat doesn’t have to be something that is consumed. Halloween stickers, temporary tattoos, glow sticks, or trinkets like spider rings, bouncy balls, and vampire teeth can all be used to double up on Halloween fun without the worry of doubling up on cavities.
As far as candy is concerned, the most “tooth-friendly” Halloween candy out there is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has added health benefits due to the antioxidants that it carries, and is a favorite candy among dentists because chocolate melts quickly and washes off of the teeth easily; this makes it harder for cavity-causing bacteria to stick to tooth enamel.
This definitely seems like a catch-22, however, sugar straws are similar to chocolate in the sense that powdered candy quickly dissolves and does not stick to the teeth.
Savory Over Sweet
Sure, Halloween is known for being a holiday centered around sweets, but that doesn’t mean that savory treats needs to be taken off of the table. Individually-wrapped or packaged cheese sticks, yogurts, crackers, and vegetable chips all make excellent candy alternatives.
If a sweet tooth still needs to be honored, give nature’s candy (i.e. fruit) a try. Apple slices, clementines, bananas, grapes, various melons, and chopped pineapple all pack a sweet punch. While fruit does have sugar, it carries with it an array of micronutrients that candy lacks.
Nature’s (Other) Candy
Fruit certainly has earned the right to be called nature’s candy, however, sliced vegetables are another tooth-friendly option. Chopped bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and baby carrots dipped in a dip of your choice provide yet another natural, tooth-friendly Halloween-treat option.
Paleo Bakery Items
Usually made with less sugar and healthier flours, paleo bakery items are a good, tooth-friendly alternative to traditional Halloween cookies and cakes. Because of the rise in popularity that the paleo market has seen, many baked paleo items are often discernible in taste from “normal” bakery items; this means that your kids can get their cookie fix while reducing the overall amount of sugar that they are consuming.
Nut Butter Packets
Many companies nowadays make single-serving packets filled with nut butters of various flavors. You can find anything from maple almond butter and hazelnut sunflower butter to dark chocolate and white chocolate peanut butter. The added sugar is considerably less than that seen in candy and nut butters offer the additional benefit of healthy fats that keep one fuller for longer ultimately reducing candy consumption. It is best to refrain from passing these out to trick-or-treaters as nut allergies can be fatal and to simply buy them to use with your own children.
As you can see, Halloween can still be delicious without the need for copious amounts of candy. A good plan of attack is to sit down with your kids after trick-or-treating and to sort through their candy haul. Ask them what their favorite candy is and set that aside. Vow to donate the rest. Then, use the saved Halloween candy as a post-meal treat versus a one-night free-for-all and schedule a dental cleaning for your kids within the month following Halloween.