What Parents Need to Know About Easter Baskets and Dental Health

Will the Easter bunny bring your child a basket filled with sweet treats and chocolate-covered goodies? Before the bunny (and basket) arrives, take a look at what you need to know about this spring-time holiday and your child's dental health.

What Easter Candy Should Your Child Avoid?

While you'd happily fill the Easter basket with apples and oranges, your child wouldn't agree. If you plan to add sweet treats to your child's Easter bunny bounty, you can reduce the cavity-causing effects of sugary snacks with a few smart choices.

The first step to a healthy (or healthier) mouth basket is understanding which foods to avoid. Even though all sugar-containing treats can raise the risk of dental decay, these candies top the list of the most notable offenders:

  • Gummy candies. The cute bunny- and chick-shaped gummies can stick on your child's teeth. This adhesive action gives decay-causing bacteria more time to feed and grow. As the bacteria digest the sugar, they release dental enamel-eroding acids.
  • Hard candy. Individually wrapped hard candy bathe your child's teeth in sugar as the sweet treat slowly dissolves. This feeds oral bacteria, increases dental enamel erosion, and raises the cavity risk. These candies can also chip or crack your child's tooth.
  • Lollipops. Like hard candies, hard lollipops also bathe the teeth in a steady stream of bacteria-feeding sugar. Also, like hard candies, lollipops can also cause dental damage such as chips or cracks.
  • Marshmallow treats. Easter Peeps are staples of the bunny's basket. Even though these sugar-coated marshmallow treats are holiday favorites, these sticky treats can increase the risk of dental decay.

If you shouldn't fill your child's Easter basket with gummies, hard candies, lollipops, and peeps, what can you use? Ideally, you'd choose non-food items. But if you want to give your child a holiday treat, you can select from somewhat safer options.

What Easter Candy Is Better to Include?

There is no candy that's good for your child's teeth. Any sugar-containing food or beverage can feed oral bacteria and eventually lead to dental decay. Even though limiting sugar intake can limit cavity formation, a once-in-a-while holiday-time treat isn't likely to ruin your child's smile. If you want to choose better candy options, consider:

  • Chocolate. Chocolate bunnies may have sugar, but they also melt away quickly. This means the sugar won't stay on your child's teeth as long as it would if they ate a gummy treat. Avoid chocolate bunnies, eggs, or other goodies that have sticky, caramel, or marshmallow filling.
  • Sugar-free chewing gum. If your child is old enough to chew gum (without swallowing it), a sugar-free option is the way to go. The chewing action can increase saliva production and wash away decay-causing bacteria.
  • Other sugar-free candy. Gum isn't the only treat that contains sugar alternatives. If you don't want your child to eat real sugar treats, you have options. Even though sugar-free candies don't raise the risk of decay, in excess they can upset your child's stomach.

Even though these holiday picks don't come with the same decay risks gummies, lollipops, and other similar candies do, they are still options to use sparingly. Add a few low or no-sugar treats and balance the basket with a variety of non-candy items.

What Healthy Mouth Items Can You Include?

Candy isn't the only Easter basket filler to add. Limit the sugary selections and create a balanced basket from the bunny with:

  • A toothbrush. Choose a playful toothbrush that features your child's favorite movie, TV, or cartoon character.
  • Flavored toothpaste. Compliment the character brush with a cartoon-covered flavored children's toothpaste product.
  • Milk. If your child will open their basket immediately, add a few individually sized bottles of milk. Avoid flavored or sugar-added products.

Along with these items, fill your child's basket with books, small toys, and other trinkets. Non-food goodies eliminate the sugar issue and won't contribute to dental decay.

Does your child need a routine cleaning or dental office visit? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information.

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