Halloween Candy and the Dentist
Halloween is one of the oldest holidays on the planet and is still celebrated all over the world in different ways. Since the late 40s Canada and the United States have led the world in Halloween fun with pumpkins, costume parties, decorations and trick or treating.
When I was a kid I’d go out trick-or-treating and all sorts of goodies were put in my bag. Neighbors would even bake cookies and pass them out. There was one person in the neighborhood who slipped a bag of wet dirt in my trick-or-treat bag – there’s one in every crowd! With the a few crazy people out there, packaging is very important. My parents warned me not to touch anything with the seal broken unless I knew who gave it to me – advice that parents still pass on today.
Candy and Teeth
The normal collection of Halloween candy that kids have come to expect is usually sold in supermarkets or drug stores. It’s the same kind of candy that we ate as kids with lots of sugar, corn syrup, artificial colors, saturated fats and the like, but the ingredients are probably worse in quality.
Not to spoil anyone’s fun, but as a dentist I am concerned that traditional candy will stick to your kid’s teeth (candies with caramel) leaving the sugar in contact with the teeth. Additionally, the high acid content creates an environment where bacteria can start the decay process. For the top unhealthy candies, check out this article from last year (still relevant): http://healthyliving.msn.com/pregnancy-parenting/kids-health/the-10-worst-halloween-candies-for-kids.
There are Halloween treats that are more complicated and are made at home. Caramel apples are one. I like caramel but it’s simply not good for your teeth, particularly for youngsters who are more prone to decay. If you make the treats at home you at least have more control over what goes in. But these are not the kinds of treats you can pass out to the regular trick-or-treaters. Check out some ideas with this article: http://www.ivillage.com/10-healthy-and-delicious-alternatives-halloween-candy/4-b-394306.
Let’s Be Healthier
Some of you may be aware of the GMO debate or Genetically Modified Organism. The geneticists 30+ years ago were trying to create larger yields and pest resistant vegetables which would be more profitable and would feed the increasing world population. The problem is that along with the desired increased crop yields came some undesirable health situations centered around the changed DNA. GMO products are so wide spread, that some likely make their way into Halloween candy. I personally believe that GMO is a source of an increasing amount of health problems.
Last year I was more careful about the candy I bought for the kids and I will do the same this year. I am asking that my friends and patients do the same.
We can all improve Halloween by getting organic candies, or even gum.
Some of these products can be purchased at Whole Foods which champions the organic movement and carries many non-GMO products.