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It’s here – Candy Season

You know, it’s that time between Halloween and Valentine’s Day when candies, chocolates and holiday treats can be found almost everywhere – at home, on TV, at work, tucked away in gifts, and in nearly every single aisle at nearly every single store.

We care a lot about healthy smiles at the Dental Professionals of Evanston, so you may be expecting this blog to be all about how you should not eat candy during candy season.  Not so!  We may love teeth and smiles more than the average person, but we’re human too.  And we happen to love candy.

Here are our top 5 suggestions for enjoying candy season while keeping your smile as healthy as possible.

  1. If chocolate is your candy of choice, get the good stuff – go dark.Earlier this year we reminded folks that dark chocolate can actually have positive health benefits, including bacteria-fighting powers, when consumed in moderation.  Aim for dark chocolate with 70% or higher cacao content.  Just remember, if you’re handing out dark chocolate at Halloween, don’t be surprised if quite a few of your trick-or-treaters are taller than you, deny they’re really your neighbors, and come back for seconds!
  1. Encourage the kids (big and small) to trade their candy for something else.It can be hard to control what kind of candy and treats the kids bring home.  One way to limit your kids’ (and your own) exposure to cavity-causing candy and refined sugar is to provide alternatives.  For example, some families have their own “buy-back” program, where kids can trade in their candy for cash or other tokens or credit towards something they want.  You are also more than welcome to join our Candy Buy Back event!
  1. Candy isn’t the only culprit – be on the lookout for refined sugars.  Candies and chocolates are not the only treats around that can be damaging to teeth.  Be wary of snacks and foods at the office, games, meetings, etc. that include refined sugars, as well as bright or dark pigments that can stain teeth, as this mommy blogger found out a while back!  These can include cupcakes and other baked goods, drinks such as cider and eggnog, and of course those delicious but sugar-loaded sweeteners and seasonal beverages from your favorite coffee shop.

Are you a holiday-season baker?  Please don’t stop! This site has great ways to substitute healthier options for sugars and other common baking ingredients. If you are in need of a taste-tester to try out new recipes, we at the Dental Professionals of Evanston proudly volunteer for the honor!

  1. Swish with water after snacks or eating candy, and be extra vigilant about brushing and flossing.  Sugar is only one part of the tooth-decay equation – time is another major factor.  The more time sugars, bacteria and food particles are allowed to sit on the teeth, the more damage and decay they can cause.  We suggest rinsing your mouth with water as soon as possible after consuming any kind of food or beverage, until you’re able to brush.  Candy season is not the time to skip on brushing or flossing.  A good home oral health routine for adults or kids, combined with regular dental checkups, are the best possible way to prevent tooth decay.
  1. Enjoy and savor, in moderation.  The best way to have a happy and healthy candy and holiday season is actually to allow yourself to enjoy some of your favorite treats, rather than by trying to avoid them completely.   Eating regular, healthy and balanced meals and snacks throughout the day can make it much easier to avoid overindulging on sugary treats.  Take the time to savor and really taste.  Eating more slowly allows your brain time to tell your stomach when to stop.  Try to portion out your treats.  Storing chocolate and candies in the freezer is a great way to prolong their shelf life, and is less tempting than in a big bowl on the counter.

Do you have any tried and true methods to make it through candy season?   We encourage you to share them with us, or any other comments or suggestions using the box below.