Halloween Candy Fun without the Cavities - Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Halloween Candy Fun without the Cavities

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Three kids, one boy and a two girls, sitting together in their Halloween costumes with pumpkin candy baskets.

Halloween is just around the corner, which means parties, costumes and loads of candy. Fortune 500 reports that the average trick-or-treater will consume about 3 cups of candy on this day alone, which is about 7,000 calories of sugar in one day. With that crazy amount of sugar on just this one day, plus the days to follow, the amount of sugar a child consumes can be mind-blowing. Use these tips to help protect your child’s teeth from the effects of sugary treats and tips for limiting how much sugar your child consumes!


Halloween Candy Fun

Halloween is one of the biggest candy holidays of the year as:

  • The average child eats about 3 cups of sugar in Halloween candy on October 31st.
  • The average Halloween candy bag has about 11,000 calories total, mostly from sugar.
  • More than 141 million people in the U.S. buy Halloween candy for the holiday.
  • The amount bought is about 600 million pounds of Halloween candy.
  • Unless specifically labeled “sugar-free”, most candy is mainly sugar, which is a major health concern for your body and for your teeth.


A pumpkin candy basket filled with candy with candy surrounding it.

Why Is Sugar Associated with Cavities?

When you eat (any food, not just candy), sugars in your mood mix with bacteria in your mouth as you are chewing your food into smaller pieces for digestion. That mixture of sugar and bacteria creates a sticky substance called plaque, and that’s the transparent film that sticks to your teeth. Plaque is not generally washed away by swallowing or drinking liquids. It is very sticky, so it sticks to your tooth enamel surfaces. You may even be able to feel some plaque on your teeth right now if you feel your teeth with your tongue.


The longer that plaque sits on your teeth, the more it damages your teeth. This is because plaque is acidic. Acids are caustic enough that they can actually break up the minerals in your teeth if given enough time. When plaque is stuck on your teeth for awhile, it can work at your tooth enamel, eroding it and weakening it until it starts to demineralize and decay. That is how a cavity gets its start. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth like you should be doing several times a day, you leave yourself open to tooth decay from plaque. When the top layers of teeth decay, the inner layers can decay and get infected, leading to tooth loss. All of these problems can be directly traced back to sugar.


Can You Avoid Cavities while Eating Sugar?

As we mentioned, you won’t get a cavity just because you eat a sweet treat. In fact, you could get cavities from regular food instead of just Halloween candy or sweet treats if they have sugar. The more sugar you eat, the more your teeth can decay.


You can avoid cavities even if you eat some sugar by:

  • Limiting that sugar consumption. Don’t eat treats at every meal. Choose one time during the day or a day of the week that you or your child can have a sweet treat. The less candy and treats you eat, the less you will crave sugary foods.
  • Brushing your teeth every single day. The American Dental Association recommends that every patient brush their teeth at least twice a day, if not more often. Brush with fluoride toothpaste, making sure to brush for 2 minutes each time as you go in all directions.
  • Floss your teeth. Don’t skip flossing! If so, you miss 40% of your tooth surfaces that can all decay. Floss your child’s teeth until they have the dexterity to floss them themselves. Then, make sure they floss day and night to avoid child tooth decay.
  • Use fluoride products and toothpastes to strengthen the teeth and to protect against decay.
  • Get dental sealants, which are plastic coatings for the teeth that dentists can provide.
  • Visit the dentist twice a year (at least) and make sure your children are doing the same from infancy.


A young female child brushing her teeth with a child toothbrush and smiling towards the camera, in front of a baby pink background.

Healthy Teeth and Halloween Candy

If you or your child do end up getting cavities—especially from Halloween candy consumption—we can still help your smile to be healthy. When a cavity forms in a tooth, we can’t reverse it. What we can do is remove that part of the tooth and restore the area with new dental material. The key is to keep up on biannual exams so we can catch teeny tiny cavities and stop them before they grow larger.


When it comes to Halloween candy and the entire fall and winter season full of holidays, make sure you limit sugar consumption and treats. It’s hard to reverse decay or to prevent it if there is an endless amount of sugar being consumed. If you want your child to enjoy their candy while still being healthy, you can do things such as:

  • Making them earn their Halloween candy. If they do chores or do really well with their oral health care, then they can earn a piece of candy at mealtime.
  • Limiting snacking between meals. All-day snacking can expose the teeth to plaque constantly instead of just at mealtimes.
  • Making a deal with children to trade a certain amount of candy for a toy or small gift that they want. They still get something fun for the holiday and you can limit the sugar their teeth are getting.
  • Brushing and flossing the teeth before bedtime. Make sure all the candy is out of their rooms when kids go to bed for the night and that teeth are brushed. This helps the teeth be free of plaque during the night.

Every household will have a plan that works for them to limit decay from Halloween candy consumption. You can definitely still eat candy and so can your kids. Just make sure you’re all taking care of the teeth during candy-heavy holidays. To learn more tips for keeping your child’s teeth healthy, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!