At Lakeport Dental, we like to tell our clients that autumn is a great time to schedule family dental checkups; to switch out summer’s worn-out toothbrush and to begin thinking about fun alternatives to candy, during candy season.
Our best advice to you is to exercise willpower, and not indulge in candy-snacking. However, with the reality of a busy family life, we know asking our clients to abstain is going to be met with laughter. We are aware you can’t avoid it; the sweet stuff is everywhere, just waiting to be enjoyed. We know, because we have families, too. How, then, can you both enjoy candy season’s kickoff - Halloween - and still take part, while honouring your oral health?
Beyond advocating moderation in the enjoyment of sweets, Lakeport Dental staff have come up with a few tips:
1. If you intend to shell out for Halloween, wait to purchase your goodies until the day before you need them. That way, the bag won’t mysteriously disappear, with family members claiming: “It wasn’t me!” If you must purchase goodies in advance, pop them into the freezer. This may not deter your kids, though.
2. Replace candy items with art supplies as your shellout goodies. Crayons for little ones; pencil crayons or markers for older children; Halloween pencils and themed erasers bagged together with little notebooks and perhaps one sweet treat; paints and paintbrushes and stickers are our go-to items. Your local dollar store will have lots from which to choose.
3. Instead of joining the throng of neighbourhood kids shelling out, ask your kids if they want to have a Halloween party with their friends, instead. You can have fun planning activities, like baking pumpkin seeds, a costume contest, decorating and eating “dirt ’n worms” (chocolate pudding or yogurt spread with Oreo cookie crumbles and gummy worms) and telling kid-friendly ghost stories. Send kids home with leftover treats and a goodie bag filled with Halloween-themed art items, possibly including a new toothbrush for each child.
4. If your child’s school or daycare class requests baked items for a Halloween party, try sending something healthy instead. Use large tortilla flats and make a mix of cream cheese, mild salsa and shredded cheddar. Spread it onto the tortillas and roll up, slicing diagonally into pinwheels. We make these using different flavours of tortillas, like sun-dried tomato and spinach, alternating with whole wheat and flour, to make the platter festive.
5. When Halloween is over and you have all that candy in your house, there are a few good strategies for making it disappear. We have mentioned these before, but they are worth another look: Freeze candy; bake with it, then give the baked goods away; donate it to a women’s or men’s shelter; decorate birthday or other gifts with it; use it to make an Advent calendar for December; use it to decorate a gingerbread house for Christmas; put together a gift basket for the hospital’s paediatrics ward; take it to work and leave it in a common area; or give it to a teacher you know who can use it as an occasional, responsible treat for students (where permitted).
Some families allow children to snack as much as they want, as long as they rinse, brush and floss after doing so. Once the kids have gorged on the candy, parents can quietly remove it from reach. Some families allow children to pick out a few treats, say, one a day for a week following Halloween, to be enjoyed as “dessert” in the days following the holiday. The rest is quietly disposed of in various ways (see No. 5 above for tips). Remember, overindulging in anything sweet can harm your health, and sweet treats without proper mouth and tooth care are a disaster waiting to happen. Halloween is a great time for reinforcing good oral health habits.
At Lakeport Dental, we are happy to discuss your candy season coping strategies! Let’s make this a tooth-friendly Halloween, full of fun for the whole family! To make an appointment, call our office at 905-934-0235 or schedule one online!