Probably not! Halloween began as an ancient Celtic holiday called Samhain. The Gaelic festival marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, considered “the dark half of the year.” Celebrants believe that it is the day of the dead. On that day, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. Thus the ghosts can return to the living world for a visit during that day.
Trick-or-treating going from door-to-door, singing songs or praying to the dead is part of the festivities. Traditionally, food and drinks were given out to the mummers, but nowadays, candy and sweets are the main giveaways.
Children come home with bags of candy and sweets after an evening of door-to-door trick-or-treating. So what can the parents do to maintain their family’s oral health with all the candy and sweets collected?
It is alright to enjoy the candy collected from Halloween, but consuming the sweets with the following plans and patterns is important to stay healthy.
- Eat Halloween candy with meals or shortly after mealtime. During meals or shortly after, the saliva production and flows are at the highest level; this helps wash out the food debris, neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria in your mouth, and remineralizes the enamel surfaces with the calcium and phosphate ions in the saliva.
- Store the candy away between meals so that the children cannot snack on the sweets anytime between meals.
- Limit the amount of candy your children can have a day.
- Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. The length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Candies that remain in the mouth for a long time subject teeth to an increased risk of tooth decay.
- Sticky sweets like caramel toffee and gummy are chewy. They stick to the teeth, especially firmly into the pits and grooves on your teeth, making them hard to wash and even brush away.
- Look for organizations that collect candies or donate to some dental offices that have a candy take-back program.
- Drink more water after eating the candy, and brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste one more time per day.
- Maintain a healthy diet by having rough fresh vegetables and fruit like apples to help to scrap the plaque away from the gums. Snacking on cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss cheese stimulate saliva and have shown cavity-fighting properties.
- Reduce other sugary intakes like soda and sports drinks.
- Chewing sugarless gum helps to increase saliva flow. But chewing gum too long and too often can cause excessive enamel wear, TMJ disorder and increase the likelihood of teeth chipping. It is advisable not to chew gum for more than 20 minutes a day.
- Flossing the teeth can help to remove food and debris between teeth that toothbrushes cannot reach.