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Chicago Dental Society crunches the numbers, urges moderation and tooth-friendly treats this Halloween
CHICAGO—-Reviewing nutritional information for nearly two dozen Halloween candy favorites, the Chicago Dental Society determined that a trick-or-treater, on average, will consume 5,435 calories and more than 3 cups of sugar from Halloween candy, putting young teeth at risk for cavities.
Calorie-wise, it is comparable to consuming three quarts of premium chocolate ice cream, two tubes of cookie dough or 2.5 gallons of soda.
"Those bite-size candies do add up," says Dr. Trucia Drummond, Chicago Dental Society spokesperson and a general dentist who practices in downtown Chicago. "That's why I encourage parents to consider giving out something other than candy."
"If you don't want to give out fruit or popcorn, stickers, plastic rings, crayons, temporary tattoos and similar items are good alternatives," she says. They can be purchased in bulk and kids will get a kick out of them.
If you still want to hand out candy, choose ones that are easily chewed and swallowed.
"A child may crack a tooth on a hard candy if he bites down on it," Dr. Drummond says. Moreover, because hard candies slowly dissolve in the mouth, teeth are put under a prolonged acid attack, making them more vulnerable to cavities.
Sticky, chewy candies, such as popcorn balls, taffy, fruit leathers and gummy bears, should also be avoided because bits of the candy may stick to teeth, slowly dissolving and releasing sugars into the mouth, making the teeth vulnerable to cavities.
But what should parents do once kids bring their candy home?
After checking over each piece to ensure it has not been tampered with, Dr. Drummond suggests monitoring when and how much candy is eaten. "Keep the candy in plain sight," she says. "If kids are allowed to squirrel it away in their room they can snack away at will."
She also recommends that candy be restricted to an after-dinner treat, followed immediately by brushing and flossing. "The sugars in candy feed the bacteria in your mouth to produce cavity-causing acids for up to 20 minutes after you're done eating," Dr. Drummond explains. Ongoing acid attacks weaken your tooth enamel, leaving your teeth more susceptible to cavities. Brushing removes the acids from your mouth before they can do much damage.
Each year the Chicago Dental Society distributes more than 30,000 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to Chicago children during Halloween promotions. The society, which is the local branch of the American Dental Association, was established in 1864 and has approximately 4,100 members in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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