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Halloween Candy and Teeth

I had a fun time trick or treating tonight with my son and daughter.  The first thing my daughter wanted to eat when she got back was a bag of pretzels she was given.  She eventually moved on to the candy.  When I went to brush her teeth before she went to bed, I got one side done and then she wouldn’t let me brush anymore.

I could see the Kit-Kat stuck to her teeth and told her we needed to clean them.  I took a picture to show her, and then she let me brush.  Here’s what the Kit-Kat did to her back teeth:

Brush Teeth on Halloween

Note that I had already brushed the teeth that are on the right in the photo.  This picture shows why people so often get cavities on the chewing surface of their teeth.

If I had simply not brushed her teeth tonight, that Kit-Kat probably woud’ve been sitting there for many hours, if not all night, since our salivary glands almost shut off while we sleep.  During this time, the bacteria in her mouth would have been enjoying the Kit-Kat and starting a cavity.

Find out how plaque cause cavities.

Hopefully this photo provides a good illustration as to why it is important to brush your teeth after eating sugary snacks.

Do you have any questions about Halloween candy and your teeth?  Write them below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

Halloween Candy Healthy Teeth
©Monkey Business Images/

If you’re like most parents, you probably took your kids out trick-or-treating this past weekend. Halloween candy can harm your kids’ teeth, but there are certain ways to minimize the harm.

Halloween Dental HealthAbout 15 years ago, dressed as a gangster, I walked up to a dimly lit house and opened my pillow case and said “Trick or Treat!”  I received neither a trick nor a treat.  I stared in disbelief as the elderly gentleman dropped a toothbrush into my pillowcase.

I felt like that single moment detracted from the true spirit of Halloween.  I couldn’t believe that I’d just wasted 30 seconds of valuable trick-or-treating time on an oral hygiene product.

I promised myself I would never give trick-or-treaters a toothbrush.  I’ve kept my promise so far, so I won’t give you a toothbrush this Halloween, I’ll just give you some good tips on how to keep your children’s teeth healthy this Halloween.

To answer the question in the title of this article: Yes, kids can keep their teeth reasonably healthy this Halloween season.  By incorporating the tips below into their candy-eating lifestyle, hopefully your kids can avoid an extra trip to the dentist for a filling!

The Type of Candy They Eat

One of the worst kinds of candy to eat is sour candy.  Sour candy often contains acids that help dissolve the teeth.

You might think that making your child eat dried fruit, such as raisins isn’t too bad for their teeth.  However, dried fruit is as bad as some candy and can even be worse if it sticks to the teeth and hangs around in the mouth for a long time.

When we took our kids trick-or-treating this weekend, we ended up getting a lot of chips like Doritos and Lay’s potato chips.  While these types of “Halloween candy” can be better for the teeth than pure sugar, sometimes they can stick around in the grooves on your child’s teeth.  If they stick around, they can be turned into sugar and cause cavities just like a sugar-filled candy bar would.

Although there is no sugary candy that really benefits the teeth, some bubble gum can help if it is chewed for a long time, since it helps stimulate saliva production which can help the teeth.

It’s probably best to shy away from sour candy and sticky candy that can hang around in your child’s mouth for a long time.  One thing that can have a big effect on how long the candy sticks around in their mouth is what they do after they eat their Halloween candy.

What They Do After They Eat Their Candy

A great way to get the sugar out of their mouth and keep the bacteria from producing more acid is to have your children rinse their mouth out with water a few times after eating their candy.

Eating cheese after candy not only helps rinse away the sugar, but the calcium and phosphate in the cheese can remove the acid from your child’s mouth and help re-build any enamel that was dissolved.  Eating any of a variety of snacks that are good for teeth can help wash away the sugar.  Even chewing gum will help stimulate saliva production to clean out the mouth.

It’s alright to have your children brush their teeth, as long as they haven’t eaten a bunch of sour candy.  Sour candy, such as Sour Patch Kids, can start dissolving the enamel on your children’s teeth.  If they brush before their saliva has had a chance to repair the enamel, they could permanently brush away a very thin layer of enamel.

How Often They Eat Their Candy

It is best to have your child eat their candy once per day, with a reasonable limit on how much they can eat.

For example, it would be much better for your child to eat two candy bars in one sitting than it would be to have them eat a candy bar one bite at a time over the course of a few hours.  Every time they eat sugar, the pH in their mouth drops, allowing cavities to form.

To better understand what happens each time you eat sugar, take a look at the article What Happens In Your Mouth Every Time You Eat or Drink.

Mark Helpin, a Temple University pediatric dentist has said, “Parents can let kids eat a bunch of candy now and a bunch later. But don’t let them have one piece now, then an hour later let them have another piece.”

When They Eat Their Candy

The worst time to have your children eat their Halloween candy is right before bed.  Saliva production generally stops when we sleep.  If you eat sugar right before going to bed, the sugar can stay in your mouth for a long time.  Try to not have your children eat their Halloween candy right before bed.

Some good times to eat Halloween candy would be right after a meal, such as lunch or dinner, when they are still making a lot of saliva to help clean our their mouths.  Another good time might be to have the candy as a snack after school.


Hopefully these tips will help you to keep your child’s mouth healthy this Halloween season.

If you have any questions or comments on this article, feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

Should Dentists Buy Back Halloween Candy?
©Michael C. Gray/

Over the past week, I’ve heard of a few dental offices around the United States that are offering to buy back Halloween candy from kids.  The going rate is $1 per pound.  The dentists then take this candy and ship it overseas to American soldiers that are sacrificing for our country.

Here’s an article that talks more in-depth about this program.

Kids Trick or TreatingOn the surface, it seems like a great idea: free candy for the soldiers, money for the kids, and possibly less cavities for the kids.

On the flip side, it seems like this program kind of sucks the fun out of Halloween.  Isn’t Halloween about indulging yourself in great-tasting candy?

However, as a dental student, I can appreciate the promotion of oral health!

User badbutgood left a comment on this article about a Tennessee dentist who is buying back candy this Halloween:

“Let Kids be Kids! Halloween comes only once a year. Besides, most of the candy goes in the garbage after a few weeks anyway. (That is what I don’t sneak and eat.) I don’t let my child have the gummies or bubble gum because she has braces also. But buying back kids Halloween candy seems a little wrong to me.  Although, it’s a quick way to make some easy cash!”

This comment really made me think about these programs.  Here’s a few thoughts on the subject:

Should Kids Sell Their Candy to a Dentist This Halloween?

1 – No – It’s rip-off for the kids – The Halloween candy costs a LOT more than $1 per pound.  Trust me, now that I’m a grown up and am expected to buy Halloween candy to give out to kids, I can tell you from personal experience that the kids aren’t getting fair market value for their hard-earned candy.  Maybe the most enterprising children could negotiate a better rate with their dentists and fetch a couple of bucks for each pound.

2 – Yes – It’s a bargain for the kids – Who knows…  Maybe by selling a lot of their Halloween candy, they will avoid getting a cavity.  That alone could make the Halloween candy buy-back a bargain for the child.

3 – No – It might cause cavities in the soldiers – Last year they shipped 60 tons of candy overseas.  Maybe they caused 60 tons of cavities in the soldiers.

4 – Yes – It’s a worthy cause.  What soldier wouldn’t be delighted to get some candy from America?  It’s a win-win situation, the kids get some money, and a soldier gets some free candy from the good old USA.

5 – No – They’re selling a gift -The Halloween candy was given to the children for them to enjoy, not to make a profit.

Would You Sell Your Halloween Candy?

I don’t think I would have sold my candy as a kid.  My candy symbolized a hard night of work knocking on doors and lots of walking!

Let us all know what you would do or what you will do this Halloween in the comments section below.

By the way, if you don’t end up selling your candy or your children’s candy, be sure to check back here on Monday.  I’ll have an informative article detailing the best strategies that you can use to eat your Halloween candy and keep your teeth happy.

Have a happy Halloween this weekend and stay safe!