Halloween is all about spooky skeletons and creepy cobwebs, but there’s nothing scarier than the cavities that can be caused by a night full of eating candy. After all, Halloween is pretty much an excuse for kids to eat pounds and pounds of candy while dressed like superheroes. But, unfortunately, even Spider-Man gets cavities.

So, when your kids come home with those comically large bags of candy, how do you make sure their dental health survives the Halloween scare? (And no, taking the candy away isn’t an option!)

Why Does Candy Cause Cavities?

Everybody knows that candy is bad for your teeth, but it’s important to understand how candy causes cavities if you’re going to help your kids eat responsibly this Halloween. There’s both good and bad bacteria in our mouths, but the bad bacteria likes to feed on sugar and, when bad bacteria feeds on sugar, they create acids that erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.

That means you should be keeping your eye on more than just candy. Kids love syrupy pancakes and apple juice for breakfast! Even though maple syrup and juice don’t have the same bad reputation as candy, they can still cause cavities and tooth decay.

Which Halloween Candy is the Worst for Kids’ Teeth?

Sugar is sugar and sugar is bad for your teeth, but that doesn’t mean all candy poses the same risk for cavities and tooth decay. The absolute worst kind of candy when it comes to causing cavities is anything that’s chewy or sticky. If sugar stays stuck to teeth, then there’s going to be more acid created that causes cavities and tooth decay. Hard candy is also bad because it exposes teeth to sugar for a longer period of time.

Dark chocolate and snacks like pretzels or crackers are going to be better choices than gummies or caramel. Dark chocolate actually contains antioxidants that inhibit bacteria from sticking to teeth, but of course, those aren’t always the candies that kids want on Halloween.

How to Prevent Cavities from Creeping up

Don’t forget to brush! That might seem super obvious, but after a night of munching on candy, kids should definitely be brushing their teeth. It can also be helpful to drink water while eating candy to dislodge some of those sugary chunks between teeth. You don’t want to take all the fun out of Halloween – or even worse, take away all the candy! – but you can take the opportunity to reinforce good oral health habits.

Also, visits to your family dentist should happen twice a year and, while you’re there, ask about dental sealants for your children. Sealants act as a barrier between teeth and bad bacteria to provide additional protection from cavities.

If you’re looking for a family dentist who’s perfect for those post-Halloween checkups, come talk to the team at Dental Health Partners in Cedar Rapids.