Halloween is a time of fun and celebration but momma’s can get a little anxious about the amount of sweets that kids consume this time of year. And with good reason, did you know that children between the ages of 2-8 consume the most candy on Halloween?
While we want to definitely enjoy the holiday with our kids, we want to make sure they have healthy teeth for years to come. Tooth decay affects many children in our community. Not only is this a painful condition, but in many cases, it also affects their lifestyle and school performance (children with poor oral health are 3 times more likely to miss school as a result of dental pain).
We reached out to America’s ToothFairy to get the scoop on how to set healthy boundaries with our kids. She wasn’t available, as she has a lot of children to visit, so we spoke with her official representative, Madeleine Ritchey, America's ToothFairy's spokesperson and dental hygienist. She has partnered with America's ToothFairy: National Children's Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF) an organization that works to increase access to oral health care by supporting non-profit clinics and community partners delivering education, prevention and treatment services for underserved children.
She answered a few of parent's top concerns below!
1. How can parents set healthy boundaries around Halloween candy consumption?
Balance is key! Instead of denying treats at Halloween, we recommend parents to teach their children about moderation. For example, parents can limit the consumption of candy to once a day during the Halloween season, as well as the number of sweets to one – instead of many at the same time.
2. How should we set limits at various ages? The younger your children are, the more you should teach them about moderation and positive oral health behaviors for a lifetime healthy smile. We've found that the majority of parents (87%) do not limit candy consumption at home and, as a result, two-to eight-year old kids are the ones that consume most candies on Halloween.
3. The majority of our listeners have children who are in the toddler and preschool phase, how much candy should kids be allotted at this age?
For a healthy smile, I’d recommend replacing candy for sugar-free snacks, fruit, cheese or yogurt. For those parents that would like to treat their children with candies we suggest:
Choosing dark chocolate which contains less sugar than other candies and has health benefits - such as being a wonderful antioxidant.
Having their kids drink water while eating candy. Water will keep them hydrated and help remove food residues from the mouth, preventing the proliferation of bacteria that can cause cavities.
Encouraging their children to eat some cheese or drink milk after eating candy will help neutralize the acids left by food and prevent cavities and tooth erosion.
And of course brushing their teeth and flossing is the best advice.
4. How do we politely address friends/family on the subject of candy limits?
At America’s ToothFairy, we know that children want delicious, while parents want to provide what’s good for them. For that reason, we encourage them to promote moderation at home, regardless of their age. Today, there are also many alternative, healthy options for our teeth that parents can choose to satisfy their kids preferences, such as sugar-free lollipops or gums, no sugar added applesauce, prepacked snacks, among others. Products made with natural sugar, such as Xylitol, are also good options for your children’s smiles.
Sharing this information with family and friends will be beneficial to our kids and will help creating more awareness about oral health in our community.
We are so grateful to America's ToothFairy for sharing her tips with us!
Below you can find more information about NCOHF!
About the Organization: Founded in 2006, America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF) Work hard to educate families about dental health and increase access to dental services. The America’s ToothFairy Southern California Oral Health Zone (SoCal OHZ) program focuses on improving children’s oral health outcomes through education and community engagement initiatives in Los Angeles and Orange County. The SoCal OHZ program supports more than 300,000 children and caregivers in the area with oral health education and resources every year.