No doubt the Easter Bunny has good intentions when he brings Easter treats each spring. However, all those sweets can, unfortunately, cause issues for your kids’ oral health, like tooth decay. While we don’t want spring showers to rain on your Easter parade, we would like to offer some tips to help make this Easter more smile-friendly!
Plan An Easter Treat Time
Instead of allowing your little ones to snack on candy throughout the day, choose a snack time for them to indulge in a few of their sweet finds. This reduces the consistent supply of sugar on their teeth that creates an acidic environment, which leads to cavities. Sugar is not just a favourite snack for kids. It is also what bacteria love to eat which helps them thrive in that sugary, acidic environment, leading to tooth decay.
So, choose a time of day that suits your schedule and allow your kids to enjoy no more than three or four pieces of candy at a time. Make sure they drink a glass of water following their snack and then have them brush and floss about 30 minutes later. Keep the Easter baskets in a safe place so they aren’t tempted to sneak a piece when you aren’t looking. Another good thing about choosing a specified treat time is that it helps your child avoid developing an unhealthy craving for sweets.
Avoid The Sticky Stuff
While all sweets are bad for teeth, some are far worse than others. In a way, this makes it easier to help manage sweets during the Easter holidays, so the Easter bunny can choose their treasures wisely. The number one rule for unhealthy snacks when it comes to teeth is to avoid sticky candy. Sticky, chewy candy is tooth decay enemy number one as it is much more difficult to completely swallow. Its stickiness causes it to stick to teeth, especially those small crevices and cracks. When this happens, the bacteria have more time to feed on the sugar until brushing and flossing time arrives at bedtime.
During this time, the acid can literally dig into the enamel, creating tooth decay. In fact, it’s not just sticky candy that can cause damage. Dried fruit is just as bad even though it may seem like a healthy snack choice. If your child does find sticky candy like jelly beans at Easter egg hunts, be sure to have them thoroughly rinse their mouth out with water after eating them. Then they should floss and brush to remove any sticky stuff left behind.
Stay Clear Of Hard Candies
Hard candies like all-day suckers are a close second when it comes to bad treat choices. Because they take longer to consume, the sugar stays in the mouth longer. Just like their sticky counterparts, hard candy is notorious for exposing teeth to sugar and acids, sometimes for hours. This is the ideal scenario for tooth decay, as bacteria continue to feed on the sugar and excrete those damaging acids. As pretty as those Easter lollipops might look, they contain a dangerous amount of sugar.
They can also be damaging for teeth as they can increase the risk for oral injury if your child decides to bite down on them instead of sucking. Even if that bite doesn’t damage their teeth, the hard candy will adhere to their teeth much like sticky candies and continue to cause acid production.
Just Say No To Gummies And Sour Candies
These candies are a triple threat because they 1) Contain sugar 2) Are chewy and 3) Are higher in acid. The ingredients of these favourite treats combine to create the perfect storm for tooth decay. They are highly acidic, making them even worse than your basic sugary candies. Avoid these candies all year round!
Teeth Friendly Treats
While it might sound like we’ve pretty much knocked all your kids’ favourites off the list, there are some healthier choices they are sure to enjoy. Topping the list is the hollow dark chocolate bunny or egg. These come in larger, impressive sizes that are ideal for a gift, as well as smaller sizes perfect for Easter egg hunts. As long as you don’t buy hollow bunnies or eggs packed with bad candy, this is the best choice for avoiding tooth decay. While we wouldn’t say milk chocolate is healthy, you can find choices that contain less sugar than most Easter treats.
If you start your kids off with healthier chocolate, they won’t know what they’re missing with higher sugar content found in milk chocolate varieties. In fact, dark chocolate is actually healthy and is even rumoured to strengthen tooth enamel. According to one study, theobromine is found in the cacao plant which is an effective remineralizing agent. Tooth remineralization naturally repairs enamel when calcium, phosphate and theobromine fill the enamel voids. As a result, it can help strengthen tooth enamel and has even been considered as a possible alternative to fluorides.
Why Chocolate Is The Ultimate Easter Treat
Dark chocolate is the least processed type of chocolate available. As a result, it contains all of the good things found in cocoa beans. When choosing dark chocolate check the label and choose the products that are 70% cocoa. These chocolates will be sweet enough to tempt your kids, but also still contain healthy antioxidants including:
- Tannins: If you are a wine lover, this word might sound familiar. Tannins are not only found in wine, but also in dark chocolate which gives it that bitter taste and luscious deep chocolate colour. They are an excellent component of chocolate because they actually stop bacteria from sticking to teeth.
- Polyphenols: This is another compound found in chocolate that helps fight tooth decay and gum issues as it neutralizes microorganisms that cause bad breath.
- Flavonoids: Another powerful antioxidant, flavonoids can actually slow tooth decay.
Antioxidants fight off harmful free radicals that can damage cells. So if you can, try starting your children off by only giving them dark chocolate. Hopefully, they’ll acquire a taste for the healthier, less harmful version of this Easter treat.
Once all is said and done, Easter just happens to be a time of year when candies abound. However, by choosing dark and/or hollow chocolate bunnies and eggs, and offering a fluffy bunny toy to help fill their Easter baskets, you can have a lovely Easter without the worry of interfering with your kids’ oral health from tooth decay.