Kids of all ages with a sweet tooth look forward to Halloween and a treasure trove of candies and treats. It is also the time emergency visits to see us skyrocket due to a chipped or cracked tooth from biting hard candy. And we all know the long-term effect that sugar has for creating dental caries and related issues. But Halloween hasn’t always been a day drenched in sugar. Read on to discover how Halloween has evolved into what it is today, and some tips to make it less frightening.
It Wasn’t Always About Candy
It is believed by some that Halloween originally had its roots in ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Festival of Samhain, and celebrating the start of the Celtic New Year which began on November 1. It is thought that the early Christians incorporated it into their beliefs. Others believe it began strictly as a Christian holiday. The word Halloween does come from All Hallows’ Eve, which is a day of religious observances, including attending church services and putting candles on graves to pay respect to the dead.
Trick-or-treating comes from an old English and Irish tradition, “going a-souling,” where children would go door-to-door gathering food for the Festival of Samhain. In the early 1900s, immigrants brought the practice to America.
The practice gained popularity in the 1930s and 40s, as towns emphasized it to grow neighborly communities. Early treats were often homemade cookies, muffins, and fruit. By the 1950s, Halloween was celebrated nationwide. With its immense popularity also came concerns about tampering with these easily accessible treats. Candy producers were quick to see the market and started campaigns promoting the safety of pre-packaged candies instead of homemade treats. Along with safety, it was cheaper and less time-consuming to buy bags of candy. By the 1970s, candy came to be expected when trick-or-treating.
Don’t Let Halloween Be Scary for Your Teeth
Dentists are people too! We don’t believe you shouldn’t enjoy Halloween, just follow some sensible guidelines to protect your teeth, including:
- Avoid hard candy that can crack or chip your teeth.
- Avoid sticky candy that clings to your teeth, allowing cavity-producing bacteria to flourish, or can pull fillings and crowns off the teeth.
- Consider non-candy treats like stickers, glow-sticks, or pre-packaged healthy snacks.
- Set limits on sugary treat intake. This one is tough to do, but all the candy doesn’t have to be eaten in one sitting. You could set a limit of so many treats per day, or have your child pick out their favorite treats and donate the rest to organizations like Operation Gratitude that send packages to soldiers overseas.
- Eat the candies immediately after a meal. Saliva output, which helps clean teeth by washing away the bacteria-caused acids, increases during meals.
Be Sure to Keep Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Be sure that brushing and flossing is done daily, especially after eating sweets. If brushing isn’t possible, rinsing with water after eating candy can help reduce the effects of sugar.
If you or your loved ones haven’t had a checkup recently, the time that follows the temptations of Halloween might be a good time for a thorough cleaning and exam. Heading off little issues before they become big problems saves you time, money, and possible pain. Call our office to set up an appointment today.