Healthy Trick or Treating

The Halloween season can put children's oral health at risk. Here's how to enjoy healthy trick or treating.
Healthy Trick or Treating
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 29 October, 2022

One of the most awaited holidays for children is coming soon: Halloween! Trick or treating is a moment of great sweetness and fun, but it’s also an unhealthy situation. More and more countries are adopting this American custom in which children dress up in costumes and go trick or treating in their neighborhood. But consuming large amounts of sweet, ultra-processed, and sticky products is quite a detrimental situation when it comes to oral and general health. So the question arises: Is healthy trick or treating possible?

Sugar in the mouth favors the proliferation of harmful bacteria that cause cavities and gingivitis. When oral hygiene isn’t adequate and the amount of sweets is increased, these germs produce acids that destroy teeth and inflame the gums. If you want to take care of your little ones’ mouths, you should know that they don’t need to miss the party and the fun. In this article, we’ll share some tips and alternatives for your children to enjoy healthy trick or treating.

Tips to take care of your children’s teeth on Halloween

If your little ones have already prepared their costumes and their bags to go trick or treating, it’s important to make some agreements with them so that the trick or treating is healthy. These are some tips you can use to help your child enjoy the party without putting their oral health at risk:

  • No binge eating: Explain to the child that, during the outing, the best thing to do is not to eat the candy they collect. When they return, they’ll be able to size up everything they’ve collected and it’ll be easier to classify the type of treats and ration their intake.
  • Lunches and dinners are the best time to enjoy their booty: During meals, our mouths generate more saliva, which increases its protective and mouth-cleaning effect.
  • Beware of snacking: Eating sweets all the time, between meals and in isolation, causes a constant acidity in the mouth that leads to the destruction of the teeth.
  • Avoid sweets that are sticky or slow to break down sweets: Sweets that are chewy and stick to the molars remain for a long time on the tooth surfaces. Likewise, hard candies or lollipops take a long time to finish. Sugar for long periods of time in the mouth favors the proliferation of bacteria and the destruction of teeth.
  • Drink plenty of water: This way, the mouth is rinsed and cleaned after eating sweets. On the other hand, sugary drinks and soft drinks aren’t a good idea, as they add more acid and sweetness.
  • Beware of vampire dentures: It’s common for little ones to wear plastic teeth pieces that give the appearance of a vampire. However, wearing them for too long can irritate your child’s gums. The ideal thing to do is to take the scary picture and then put them away.
  • Try not to neglect toothbrushing: Don’t let the celebration lead you to neglect your child’s oral hygiene. You must clean their mouth well every time they eat candy.
A child dressed up as a vampire wearing fake vampire teeth.
To take care of your child’s teeth on Halloween, you’ll have to reduce and fraction the consumption of candy. Also, vampire dentures could affect your child’s mouth if they wear them for too long.

Select commercial candy for healthy trick or treating

While most industrial candy is harmful to oral health, there are some products that are more harmful than others. Treats that are high in sweeteners, contain acidic substances, and have a sticky or very hard consistency should be discarded, or at least reduced. For healthy trick or treating, the best option is to prepare homemade alternatives with healthy ingredients. Still, if you choose to resort to buying treats, there are some less harmful options such as the following:

  • Chocolate bars: Dark chocolate with the purest cocoa and the least amount of sugar are ideal.
  • Sugar-free chewing gum
  • Chocolate chips: These are also a sweet option that helps to protect teeth by stimulating salivary production. It’s important to make sure that they don’t contain sugar.
  • Low-sugar cookies: Cereals, granola, cereal bars, dried fruits, fruit pieces, or popcorn can be less harmful options.

Homemade alternatives for a healthy trick or treating

When it comes to preparing healthy trick or treating, the best idea is to look for homemade alternatives. We’ll share with you some ideas so you can get to work and prepare some healthy, tasty, and fun surprises for the kids:

  • Halloween tangerines: With a permanent marker, you can paint scary faces on the fruit peel.
  • Spooky strawberries: Pick and wash strawberries. Then dip them in dark or white chocolate. The more the coating drips, the more ghostly they will look. When they’re cool, you can draw the ghost’s face with cream cheese or chocolate sauce.
  • Dead Eyes: A few boiled eggs broken in half can be transformed into spooky dead eyes. Remove the yolk and fill the space with guacamole. Olives and red bell pepper strips can be used to simulate pupils and veins.
  • Banana ghosts: Cut bananas in half and decorate them with chocolate chips to make them look like ghosts.
  • Horror jello: you can prepare gelatin and fill molds with Halloween motifs, such as bats, pumpkins, or spiders. You can make them with yogurt, milk, or juice and serve them with pieces of fruit.
  • Ghostly meringues: Making meringues with egg whites and a bit of sweetener will allow you to obtain ghosts in an easy and healthy way. Two chocolate chips can serve as eyes.
Scary halloween snacks made with fruit.
Homemade elaborations are the best alternatives to take care of your little one’s oral health on Halloween. You can select healthy foods and decorate them in a way that is as scary as it is fun.

Trick or treat responsibly

Halloween is one of children’s favorite holidays. They dress up, have fun, and eat the things they love–especially candy. But paying attention to what they eat and how they eat is the responsibility of the adults who take care of them. With the tips we provided here, you can accompany your little ones on this holiday and at the same time take care of their health.

Finally, we advise you to consider having a routine checkup with your pediatric dentist once the Halloween festivities are over. Checkups allow you to detect any problems early and treat them immediately.

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