Halloween is just a few weeks away and both kids and adults alike are getting ready to enjoy spooky festivities, fun attractions, and tons of sugary treats. But this should also give us pause because the damage to our oral health can also be scary during this time of the year. And while we have previously talked about healthy snacks for summer movie nights, today, we will explore the history and impact of Halloween treats. In this blog, Dentistry of Nashville will suggest some great ways to enjoy the spooky fun while still taking care of your teeth.
Trick-or-Treating And How It Started
The history of Halloween is a long one can be traced back to an ancient Celtic festival dedicated to Samhain. Initially, this holiday was one where Celts believed the spirits of their dead relatives returned to earth. Accordingly, during Halloween, Celts would gather together and pay homage to their dead with food and festivities. Additionally, the villagers would dress in primitive costumes to drive away any ghostly visitors that would do harm.
Much later, the tradition of Mumming began when people started dressing in costumes and performing special “tricks” for foods and drinks. The custom of Mumming continued through the spread of Christianity around 1000 A.D. However, in addition to traditional tricks, poor villagers would visit the houses of the wealthy families and ask for pastries called soul cakes. These little treats would serve as payment for prayers that were dedicated to the souls of dead relatives. This practice was largely practiced by children and became known as Souling.
In a similar way, children in Scotland and Ireland practiced their own form of Souling that became known as Guising. In this tradition, the children would dress in a costume to sing songs, recite poems, or tell jokes in exchange for their favorite treats. These traditions were then taken to the United States in the mid-19th century when immigrants flocked to the United States for better opportunities.
However, despite their innocent beginnings these early traditions quickly turned into pranks and naughty mischief by the early1900’s. By the time of the Great Depression, many United States towns had adopted organized trick-or-treating traditions to combat the what had become dangerous pranks on Halloween. Trick-or-treating continued with the process of going door to door for candy. This stopped during World War II because of sugar rationing, but has been a popular tradition in the United States ever since.
Which Candy To Consume And Which To Avoid
Candy and sweets are popular for Halloween, but many people do not know that some candy is better for your teeth. Here is a brief breakdown of the “good” and “bad” candies.
Harmful sweets include:
- Sticky Candy because it exposes your teeth to sugar for longer periods and increases the risk of damage.
- Hard Candy because when you consume it, you are increasing the amount of time your teeth are exposed to sugar and its acidic side effects.
- Sour Candy or Fruity Candy because of the high acid levels that can wear away tooth enamel and increase the chances of cavities.
Better options are:
- Dark Chocolate because it contains antioxidants, which are good for your heart and healthy blood pressure.
- Powder Candy because it will disintegrate quickly and will not expose your teeth to sugars over a long period of time.
- Sugar-Free Gum because it increases healthy saliva production.
Additional Tips For A Better Seasonal Smile
If you don’t want to eliminate candy from your holiday festivities, here are a few tips from Drs. Elam, Fleming and Vaughan to combat the ill effects of too many sweets.
- Regular and healthy saliva production washes away germs, plaque, and bacteria. Keep your mouth hydrated to promote saliva production with lots of water or milk.
- Eat your candy after meals or dairy products when there is more saliva in your mouth. This can help combat the acids in your mouth and protect tooth enamel.
- Do not enjoy your sweets over a long period of time, this can expose your teeth to dangerous acids that can break down your enamel and cause cavities.
- Brush and floss your teeth daily to remove sugary film or acidic debris from the candy after you finish your sweet treats.
Contact Our Office In Nashville, TN Today
Halloween is a wonderful time of the year for all of us to enjoy sweet treats and have fun with the long-standing traditions. However, even with the festivities it is still important to remember to take good care of oral health and continue to see your dental provider regularly. If you find yourself with a toothache or any other oral health problem, contact Drs. Elam, Fleming and Vaughan for help solving all your oral health dilemmas!