This is an article that we wrote and posted in 2015 on our Facebook Page, but since it is still applicable, we decided to update it and add it to our blog this year. If you read it then, thank you! If not, keep reading, it was a fun one to put together. We added in pictures from last year’s Halloween Costumes at our office also. Without further ado, here goes:

children's dentistry

Halloween is a fun time of the year for families. From the stages of brain-storming for costume and character ideas, to the possible creative phase of designing your own costume, to the “Trick-or-Treating”, it’s a season of joy and excitement for little ones and sometimes stress and expenses for their parents! We know that this is a time of year that kids look forward to for months. Ever wondered what dentists or doctors do for their kids’ candy after Halloween?

I would like to tell you about our solution for managing the sudden influx of candy and sweet treats into the home environment.

Halloween in Our Home:

First, let me say that as a father, this isn’t necessarily easy. I had to find the balance of allowing our kids to enjoy participating in the holiday’s activities, while also teaching them to make responsible decisions regarding their health. I have three sons, and one of the things that we like to do as a family is dress up in themes: one year the kids were animals and we went as farmers, two years we went as sesame street characters, last year the kids went as policemen and we were city council members.

halloween costumes

halloween costumes

As a parent, once we get home from Trick-or-Treating, we had to come up with a game plan to make sure that our kids didn’t gorge themselves on candy for days on end. As a dentist, let me just say that we had an embarrassing amount of candy in our house!

Candy Strategies

In our home, we employ one of two strategies:

  1. We let them eat a few pieces of candy (four to five) when they get home after we have inspected it to make sure it was in sealed wrappers. Then we buy back the rest of their candy for a few dollars that they are allowed to spend in the toy store.
  2. We let them eat only one piece after finishing their meal every night for a week or two. Eventually, the novelty wears off or the other holidays get close enough that we are focusing on those festivities instead. (Of course, for this option to work, the candy must be kept out of sight or reach to prevent them from cheating!)

Option one won’t really work with our one-year-old, but is great for our three and six-year-olds and would work fine for older children as well. If you do decide to let your children keep their candy, remember to encourage brushing their teeth right after. Twice a day for two minutes should be the minimum amount of brushing to aim for with children, but with Halloween candy around, you may want to add a third time for right after they have finished their candy for the day.

Candy Alternatives

When giving out candy, consider the following:

  1. Try giving out sugarless candy or gum. Large, retail drug stores have a pretty good selection for sugarless candy and gum, and so do online retailers. It’s not too hard to find, if you take the time to look for it.
  2. If you have the time, consider making small treats to give out like sugar-free cookies. There are tons of recipes online, and no one will know the difference if you don’t tell on yourself!
  3. If you do decide to give out regular candy, limit the amount that you hand out to one or two pieces per child. Avoid giving out really “sticky” candies that are more difficult to clean off of teeth.
  4. The best option is to give out an alternative prize such as stickers, crayons or small toys. Parents will love you for it, and kids really don’t mind what they get!

Halloween is tons of fun. You don’t have to be a buzz-kill to limit the collateral damage from Halloween’s candy and treats. Teaching your children how to care for their teeth is an important responsibility of parents, and it is one that they will reap life-long rewards from as they grow. From Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville, have a Happy Halloween and stay safe this year!

– John Will, DDS

More Halloween Photos from our Office:

giraffe costume

dentist office halloween

office halloween costumes

About the Author

John Will, DDSDr. John Will comes from Tennessee. He studied dentistry at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in California and then stayed out there to do a residency in Anesthesiology. He has been practicing in Charlottesville, VA since 2010. Dr. Will enjoys traveling, exercising, being outdoors and spending time with his wife and three children. Read his full bio here.