There’s something funny about the holidays. We spend most of the year making sure that our children eat healthy foods. We steer them clear of that bag of chips—and then promptly steal a chip or two when we’re out of sight. All throughout the warmer months, we swap out those high-fructose snacks for orange slices or some refreshing watermelon smiles. Of course, we chase after our rugrats before bedtime to make sure that they’ve brushed their teeth—for goodness’ sake, there are only so many games one can make of brushing teeth! We do our best to prepare homecooked meals with the freshest ingredients we can find without going all-out Anne of Green Gables on the farm about it. And then the weather turns and we throw all of that effort right out the window.
It all starts with Halloween. By getting our children all dressed up in the best possible costumes, we become willing accomplices in their guileless mission to fleece our neighbours out of fistfuls of candy. And if we thought that the pandemic was going to put a dampener on things this year, we clearly misjudged the situation. Somehow, Batman and Elsa came back lugging pillowcases filled with candy that airport baggage handlers would stick with a “HEAVY” tag and kick down the tarmac. And that, my friends, was just October.
As we head into the holidays, our children’s secret stash of sugary treats is only going to get bigger. Peppermints and chocolate turtles, candy canes and caramels, chocolate Santas and Hershey’s Kisses, candy bars, and reindeer noses. It’s enough to make Willy Wonka dizzy.
Fortunately, we at Treehouse Dental Care have tons of experience when it comes to kids and candy. Follow this simple advice to find out how your child can eat candy without having all of their teeth fall out this holiday season. (But you’re on your own for that sugar-high).
Not All Candy is Bad (for Your Teeth)
Trying to keep your child’s smile pristine for this year’s family holiday portrait has a lot to do with what candies they’re allowed to eat. As a general rule of thumb, sugar isn’t good for your children’s teeth and you’ll want to cut back on it as much as possible. But when they are deserving of a sweet treat, here are some simple rules:
- Avoid hard candies. Hard candies take longer to dissolve which means that they’ll spend more time in your child’s mouth. All of that hardened sugar then has plenty of time to stick to your child’s teeth as they continue sucking on that lollipop.
- If it’s sticky, it’s icky. Any type of candy that is liable to latch onto your child’s teeth or find some crevice to hide in, is far more likely to cause lasting damage to their dental hygiene. This can even include different types of dried fruits.
- It’s sour for a reason. Sour foods, including candy, get their biting flavour from acids and acids just love to melt enamel like the spring sun melts snow. While your child might make the cutest faces when they’re eating sour candies, their teeth are crying out for help.
Fortunately, there are some candies that aren’t actually terrible for children’s oral health (they may even be beneficial):
- Sugar-free? Sounds good to me. As we become more and more aware of the detrimental effects that processed sugars have on overall health, sugar-free candies are cropping up all over the market. Though we’d still recommend taking a peek at that food label and list of ingredients, these alternatives are a much safer bet than their high-fructose alternatives.
- Gummy could be yummy. Once again, you’ll want to find a sugar-free version, but gum can actually work wonders for your child’s teeth. Chewing encourages the production of saliva which, in turn, protects enamel and helps teeth to remineralize. With the right stick of gum, your child might actually chew their way into healthier teeth.
Timing is Everything
When your child eats candy can be just as important—if not more—than what candy they eat. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a sugar-coated, chocolate-drizzled, caramel-smothered, syrup-soaked pancake at breakfast time isn’t the best way to start their day. Save that concoction—if you can resist it yourself—for after their mealtime. Not only is this a good way to encourage children to finish the healthy stuff first but they’ll also be less hungry and won’t consume as much sugar. And the real trick here is that production of saliva is highest around mealtime so your child’s teeth will already have the added protection afforded to them by their body’s natural defense system.
Come to See Us at the First Sign of Trouble
In case all of these tips didn’t work (because kids always find places to hide candy) then Treehouse Dental is never more than a call away. Catching candy-induced cavities early is the best way to ensure that they won’t ruin your child’s brilliant—albeit chocolate-smeared—smile. Keep an eye out for any complaints about toothaches or sensitivities to foods that they usually consume. Similarly, if your child complains about experiencing pain while drinking hot or cold beverages, that could be another sign that some candies hung around in your child’s mouth longer than they were welcome. And lastly, of course, if you see any recent stains or abnormalities in your children’s teeth, then call your dentist immediately.
While we probably won’t ever completely eliminate candy from our children’s diet, these tips can help you ensure that they won’t be toothless grinches by January. Book your child’s next appointment with Treehouse Dental today.