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Halloween candy, all at once or over time? Read what dentists say!

Updated on September 12, 2013

The great balance - Halloween treats vs dental care!

When my daughter was young , probably just two I think, I tried to impart on her the importance of healthy teeth, and the harm sugar could do. You know, in a gentle way, like how you talk to a two year old.

Well, on her first trip out at Halloween later that month, after successfully knocking on two doors, she promptly came home, emptied her candy into the trash and saved out an apple.

Suffice to say I was heartbroken. I thought I'd wrecked her, by taking Halloween away from her. As time went on we worked on it together, and as she grew up and more Halloweens passed, we got the hang of it. In fact, I'm proud to say there was never a cavity in that mouth until she was in her late teens!

Ok, so I'm not a drill sergeant, but I'm also not a parent who can sit by as a child packs it all away ad nauseum! When I was small the candy sat atop the fridge and we were allowed one thing a night after supper, to the point of the candy becoming inedible after a certain length of time, at which point the joy was gone anyway.

So where is the balance? Or is there a balance? Read on to find out some amazing ways that kids can still participate in a good and spooky Halloween and still come out ahead at the next dentist visit! (PS: I am not a Dentist)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Halloween candy 'Buy Back' programs

I love this idea, everybody wins!

Every year dentists, parents and community groups around the US hold 'Buy-Back' programs on November 1st. Kids bring in their candy and get one dollar for every pound (or it can be an 'exchange for gifts, certificates, dental care products etc). At the end of the 'Buy-Back' the candy is divided up by 'Operation Gratitude' and sent to Service Personal overseas.

Click on the photo to be taken to the Halloween Candy Buy Back page and I'll add more links for these great programs below.

It's so difficult to say 'no' to those happy faces...

So make a plan ahead of time instead!

One dental office suggests sorting candy int two piles, one with all the sticky, caramels and gummy things and everything else into the other pile, then try to avoid the first pile!

Sticky candy is the worst for teeth!

Kids can chew sugar free gum (if they're old enough), this can actually help reduce cavities by 'starving the destructive bacteria' in your mouth! Click on the kid and head over to Coast Dental for more information!

Do electric toothbrushes clean better? - Yes!

And they're great for kids too, I remember I had snoopy, ah my snoopy toothbrush...good times.

They're easy to maneuver and they do remove more plaque!

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord, deliver us!

~Scottish Saying~

More tips for a healthy Halloween!

~ Consume Halloween candy and other sugary foods with meals, and brush and floss afterwards.

~ Don't make kids choose dental health instead of candy, like I did! Use these teachable moments to help them understand the importance of dental care and a healthy diet! Candy isn't bad, but certain behaviours can cause cavities and an unhealthy diet.

~ Let kids choose a number of Halloween night treats based on age, one piece for each year.

~ Make a 'sweet time' of the day, so kids know when they can expect their treats, and it makes it easier of parents who don't have to constantly say no, or WORSE cave in!

~ Parents should supervise tooth brushing up until 8 years old, it's team work!

~ Keep toothbrushing time FUN! Let kids choose their own toothbrushes and toothpaste!

Halloween can still be fun!

Taking the focus off food

In our neighbourhood we have a Merchant's Association, and every year they get the shop owners together and plan out a very spooky Halloween!

Instead of trick or treating around neighbourhood houses, the kids instead go up and down the main street. Shop keepers give out loads of different things (including candy) but it makes a nice alternative to door to door, and help keep our community vibrant and connected!

It makes a nice change too, because the kids know at the hardware store they might get a small toy, or at the bakery they may get a (healthier than candy) sort of cookie.

At our local mall not too far away they do this as well, so kids who live in apartments can get out and enjoy some community fun, I think this takes the focus off the food!

Click the picture to find out more about my neighbourhood traditions! Why not start your own?

A good meal before trick or treating will help reduce snacking on the road! - But don't take MY word for it!

Halloween Skull & Crossbones Ice Cube Tray
Halloween Skull & Crossbones Ice Cube Tray

Spooky ice cube trays! Add colour and pop into a glass of water - no sugar there!


What Dentists give out for Halloween, poll results!


Some great and creative Halloween treat advice!

This dentist not only talks about the types of candy, but actually goes into the best way to 'eat' a hard candy!

What's your Halloween style?

As I mentioned my parents were of the one candy per night sort. Over the years as I got better at parenting, I think we always discussed it, and she had the candy after dinner, no set number of pieces, but not hoards.

Do you parent the way you were raised?

Are you a once candy per nighter or a free for all-er?

Scary treats and SCARIER treats!

Start great habits young!

Make teachable moments!

New Amazon

Dr. Fresh Marvel Heroes Standing Toothbrush, 4 Pack
Dr. Fresh Marvel Heroes Standing Toothbrush, 4 Pack

At this price, these are an easy hand-out alternative!


Are you a traditional sweet giver? Or an alternative gift giver?

See results

Toothpaste has come a long way! - Why not let them choose their own?

I had to stop buying fancy toothpaste when my daughter was young, she ate an entire tube of licorice flavoured! (Gosh I hope she doesn't read this!). So note, maybe if your toothpaste tastes really good, put it out of your toddler's reach until brushing time!

It's getting close - check out how you can participate! - Go to:

Happy Halloween!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens, I am sure dentists everywhere are smiling!

    • JennAshton profile image

      Jenn Ashton 4 years ago from Canada

      @Rhonda Lytle: Cheers poetvix - I agree, I am always for community building activities;-)

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      I the community activities as an alternate to all that trick or treating. It seems much more hands on, healthier and safer for the children.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 4 years ago from Albany New York

      This is a really good subject for Halloween, or anytime of the year. Taking care of our teeth, and starting young, is very important.

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 4 years ago

      Love the candy buy back programme!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 4 years ago from Scotland

      I have never heard of the candy buy back programme, but really what a great idea. We are fortunate my daughter does not really have a sweet tooth, so result for us adults as we get most of the candy. However I do think it sensible to make it last over a few days. And what a great idea to make sure the kids all have a good meal BEFORE they go out :)

    • hkhollands profile image

      hkhollands 4 years ago

      We do have the candy-buy-back program in our community. I have a different option at my house though: my husband. He raids the candy bags himself, much to our daughters' dismay ;)

    • CassandraCae profile image

      Cassandra Kuthy 4 years ago from Ohio

      good to know

    • mcstacy profile image

      mcstacy 4 years ago

      Great lens. Buy back program is a very good idea. Thanks for sharing.