We have a confession.

Dr. Koo and our team have a sweet tooth! We like to indulge in sweet treats every now and then, just like you. And with Halloween coming up, we can’t help but think about all the candy and sweets that will be handed out and joyfully consumed on October 31. Whether you’re buying treats for your kids’ school events, grabbing something to hand out on Halloween, or helping your children sort through their goodies, you can choose healthy Halloween treats that kids will still love and that you won’t have to feel guilty about.

Take a few minutes to scan through our Halloween tips below. And remember: although we love providing special tips throughout the year, we’re committed to keeping your family’s smiles healthy year-round – and for life! Visit Jahyun Koo DDS soon for your family’s twice-yearly checkups, where we’ll answer all your dental questions.

Keep Out! These Ghoulish Treats Are Really Tricks

Although good oral hygiene goes a long way toward fending off cavities and other dental problems, there are some sweets that should be limited or avoided if at all possible. These include any candy that’s:

  • Sticky
  • Chewy
  • Hard
  • Acidic or sour

You probably know that excess sugar can lead to cavities. Well, when that sugar comes in the form of sticky or chewy candy, it’s going to stay stuck in teeth. Even brushing and flossing can miss some of these areas. Those stuck-on sugar particles get used by bacteria as food. The bacteria create acids that destroy tooth enamel, particularly for kids whose enamel on newer teeth is weak. And of course, hard candy can damage teeth. We know this from experience after seeing too many dental emergencies from it!

Essentially, these “treats” are really “tricks” in costume. Avoid buying them for sure, and encourage your kids to skip them or trade them for the treats you’ve purchased, hopefully from the lists below.

Approach These Tricky Treats With Caution

Some treats aren’t necessarily bad but should be eaten in moderation. Much of that is due to starches or sugars that can stick to teeth and create plaque. Fruit foods can contain acid, too, but they also have some nutritional benefits.

Though the risk is less, it’s best to enjoy these tricky treats occasionally rather than throughout the day:

  • Snack-size crackers, tortilla or multigrain chips, pretzels
  • Snack-size popcorn (preferably fat free, but watch the kernels)
  • Real juice boxes
  • Fruit leather, raisins, dried cranberries, and other dried fruit
  • Small citrus fruits
  • Snack-size bags of trail mix (practice caution with any nut products, however)
  • Small packs of chocolate-coated or yogurt-coated raisins and nuts
  • Sandwich crackers
  • Small boxes of cereal (watch for sugar content)
  • Solid milk chocolate

Enjoy These Spooktacular Treats With Pleasure

You might be wondering at this point, “Are there any healthy Halloween treats?” The answer is yes! Here are a few that you can be pretty confident about letting your kids eat or handing out to other kids:

  • Small apples
  • Dark chocolate
  • Sugarless gum (the sweetener xylitol is actually good for teeth)
  • Snack-size almonds
  • Mini peanut butter packs

You can also skip the food altogether! Consider these non-candy Halloween ideas instead, which can easily be found at party, discount, or dollar stores:

  • Bubbles
  • Keychains
  • Small puzzles
  • Grow capsules (which expand into animals under water)
  • Moldable clay or small packs of Play-Doh
  • Small coloring books, activity pads, and drawing pads
  • Pencils and fun erasers or pencil toppers
  • Jewelry, especially if it glows or lights up
  • Glow sticks
  • Small toys like cars and yo-yos
  • Games
  • Removable tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Stamps
  • Lip balm

Banish Creepy Cavities With These Tricks & Tips

Kids are especially prone to cavities. In fact, about half will have tooth decay by the time they finish elementary school, and about two-thirds by the time they finish high school. It doesn’t mean decay is inevitable, though. Whether for the Halloween season or beyond, talking to your kids about good oral health practices – and practicing them yourself – is one of the best ways to ensure they make good choices for their smiles.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your kids are following a twice-daily brushing habit and once-daily flossing habit.
  • Encourage your kids to rinse with or drink water after eating any snack or meal.
  • Set a limit for the time and/or number of treats your kids can enjoy.
  • Toss the candy, or at least the not-so-healthy treats, after a few weeks.
  • Visit us twice a year for cleanings and exams, and ask if your children could benefit from sealants or fluoride treatments at their checkups.

We understand that it may be challenging to spring your ideas on older kids who’ve eaten these unhealthy treats for years and try to convince them to give up that candy. So even if your kids do end up partaking, you at least have this knowledge to pass on. It’s often easier to form healthy habits for younger kids, however, so start discussing them now. We recommend a fun, light approach, like the Mouth Monsters from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. They even offer fun printouts your kids can color for Halloween. Why not display their artwork on the fridge as a subtle reminder?

Whether you splurge on tricky treats or indulge in healthy Halloween treats, our Seattle team is here for you. Call 206-922-4573 today to set up your biannual checkups or to ask any dental-health-related questions for your family. Happy Halloween!