Survey reveals dentists' Halloween practices

Oct. 27, 2011
Delta Dental surveyed more than 250 dentists about what, if anything, they hand out on Halloween. Included are some tips for dealing with Halloween treats.

OAK BROOK, Ill. (Oct. 27, 2011) — Have you ever wondered what dentists give out on Halloween? Delta Dental knows and wants to give parents a few tips to help their little monsters avoid the oral health hazards of this popular holiday.

According to Delta Dental’s 2011 Tricky Treats survey of more than 250 dentists, nearly one out of four dentists said they do not hand out anything on Halloween, while 5% attack the holiday head on by handing out toothbrushes.1 Still, 60% indicate that they give out candy. But, significantly, of those who hand out candy, 79% choose chocolate, while just 13% hand out varieties such as hard candy or lollipops. And there’s a good reason for this confectionery choice.

Time is of the essence when it comes to teeth and sugar, so not all candy is equally scary. Sugary treats — such as candy and fruit snacks — mix with bacteria in the sticky plaque that constantly forms on teeth to generate acid, which can wear away tooth enamel and cause decay. Sweets like chocolate that quickly dissolve in the mouth and can be eaten easily lessen the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. Chewy treats and hard candy are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down.

Dr. Michelle Couty, DDS, advises parents to, “Be careful with hard candy especially if your child has a bond or a history of easily broken teeth.”1

Delta Dental offers these other tricks for dealing with Halloween treats:

  • Don’t buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.
  • Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.
  • Encourage kids to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting immediately followed by a thorough tooth-brushing or at least a glass of water.
  • Promote good oral health care habits year-round to your children by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, and getting regular dental checkups.

To learn more about what dentists give out at Halloween and get their best advice for keeping kids’ teeth healthy, visit Click here to watch a video.

The not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is the leading national network of independent dental service corporations specializing in providing dental benefits programs to more than 56 million Americans in more than 95,000 employee groups throughout the country.

1. Delta Dental conducted the 2011 Tricky Treats Halloween survey. Delta Dental network dentists were invited via email to participate in the web-based survey. For results based on the total sample of 253, the margin of error is ±6.15 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.