Happy Halloween—And National Brush Day!

Richard Gawel


Your little ghouls and goblins are bound to collect lots of sweet stuff trick-or-treating this Halloween. But all that candy can be bad for their teeth. It’s a good thing there’s a second holiday to celebrate this weekend, National Brush Day, on November 1.

As part of the Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign from the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives and the Ad Council, the event aims to reinforce the importance of children’s oral health and promote good toothbrushing habits.

“Cavities and oral infections can cause severe pain and increase a child’s risk for dental issues and poor oral health throughout their lives,” said Gary Price, secretary and CEO of the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation, “and basic information like knowing which candies are better for children’s teeth can help to prevent bacteria and the breakdown of tooth enamel.

Unless they are sugar-free, candy and other sweets that remain in the mouth for a long time lead to an increased risk for tooth decay. Sticky candies such as taffy, gummy bears, and caramel, which stick to teeth and take longer to get washed away by saliva, also increase the risk. Chocolate, which dissolves quickly, is a safer choice.

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry notes that hidden sugars such as glucose, fructose, and honey in foods like cereal bars, flavored yogurts, fruit bars, and pureed fruit pouches and juices can be just as destructive on children’s teeth.

It’s unrealistic to expect kids to refrain from eating their loot entirely, but parents can direct when and how much they eat. The ADA suggests eating these goodies with meals or shortly after, since saliva will cancel out the acids produced by bacteria and rinse away food particles. Kids also should drink fluoridated water instead of sodas and sports drinks.

Once kids have slept off their sugar high from Halloween night, parents should make sure they brush for 2 minutes at least twice on November 1—and then every day after that. Brushing doesn’t have to be a chore, either. Families can share their brushing selfies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or watch short videos showing how much fun brushing can be at 2min2x.org. Parents and kids can even compete in Toothsavers, a mobile gaming app.

“The results we’ve seen are truly incredible,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, “and I know the reminder from this year’s National Brush Day will continue the success we’ve achieved to improve children’s oral health across the country.”

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