Growing up, Halloween was my favorite holiday. I loved dressing up in different costumes and trick-or-treating with my friends, but most of all, I loved eating candy. I loved eating candy so much that every time my parents tried to warn me that it will rot my teeth, I challenged them by asking why. I don’t really remember their answers anymore, but I do remember that their answers did little to change my mind. So, I ate all the candy anyways.
Years later, I still love Halloween candy just as much as I did as a child. But, having experienced a few cavities since then, my Halloween treat choices have changed to include less of the stuff that will rot my teeth and more of the treats that promote good oral health.
Candy gets a bad rap for causing tooth decay, but our bodies play a big role in helping that decay along. Your mouth is a host to many different kinds of bacteria, good and bad, and that bacteria feeds on candy and starchy foods to survive.
You know that feeling when you get sticky candy like taffy stuck between your teeth? Sticky candies and starchy foods that get stuck between your teeth are awful for your enamel. It becomes impossible for your saliva to break them down and wash them away, which is why brushing your teeth after drinking soda or eating sugary and starchy food is so important for your oral health. If you are going to eat such foods, the American Dental Association recommends that you eat them during meals when your saliva production increases and helps rinse away the sticky foods.
While there are many foods can lead to tooth decay, there are plenty of delicious foods that promote good oral health. As I moved away from regular candies, I mixed nuts and berries with unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened coconut milk or dark chocolate to make tasty Halloween treats.
Unlike mass-produced candies, unsweetened chocolate and dark chocolate are not bad for your teeth. The natural sugar in each is coated in fat like cocoa butter which keeps the sugar from sticking to your teeth. Also, dark chocolate has a lot of antioxidants which help strengthen your teeth.
The best foods for your teeth are high-fiber fruits and vegetables, dairy, sugarless gums and some nuts. Here are some ways that you can use these foods to make Halloween treats:
• You can use berries and unsweetened coconut or almond milk to make popsicles and other frozen treats. One of my old favorites, raspberry, banana, dark chocolate and unsweetened coconut milk popsicles, is an excellent treat for kids and adults alike.
• You can use this season’s spices to make healthy treats like cinnamon and nutmeg apples or pears.
• Many nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews are packed with vitamins and minerals that help your teeth. You can roast them with cinnamon or make a nut and fruit almond milk smoothie.
There are plenty of ways to combine these ingredients to make snacks that will satisfy your sweet tooth without rotting it. Since many of these foods are also rich in antioxidants, fiber, healthy fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, they can help promote heart health and a healthy digestive system – important perks during the holidays.
– Rainier Fuclan is a freelance writer for Nashua Dentistry, a cosmetic & restorative dentistry in Nashua, New Hampshire. When he’s not writing you can find him working out and keeping fit by biking, playing basketball, and snowboarding.