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Thursday, November 30, 2023
Nov. 30, 2023

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Halloween treats create sticky dental dilemma

Camas dentist: Let the kids eat, but set limits

By , Columbian staff writer

Dentists love Halloween, too.

And that’s not just because it can make them money. Dr. Ron Hsu, who runs Storybook Dental in Camas, considers Halloween one of his two favorite holidays — right up there with Christmas.

In the past, Hsu and his family have dressed up as characters from “Peter Pan,” “Curious George,” “Avatar,” and “The Last Airbender.”

Hsu has love for the holiday, but still recognizes it can do some damage to the teeth So he wrote a blog post on his website, outlining five tips for avoiding cavities on Halloween.

Yes, there is a way to enjoy your candy on Wednesday, and not worry too much about destroying your teeth. His advice is to let kids eat as much of their candy as they can on the first night.

He recommends letting children binge because it’s easier on teeth than eating candy in 20 to 30 minutes intervals.

“It’s OK for kids to go out and enjoy these things and come home and enjoy these treats,” Hsu said. Constantly dipping into the sweet stash would do more harm, he said.

Another thing Hsu does to lighten his kids’ treat bag is to reap some of the rewards himself, with his wife, Misty. They have five kids: Ethan,15, Mei-Ling, 13, Aiden,10, Nellie, 9, and Daniel, 2.

“Levy a Mommy tax and a Daddy tax, and shrink their haul down to a more manageable size,” Hsu wrote on his blog. “It teaches them about authoritarian regimes and the pain of paying taxes, along with removing a sizable portion of their tooth-damaging ammunition.”

Hsu suggests letting kids binge on the candy because it will make them happy, and also because he believes they’ll eventually encounter a “sickening feeling” after over-indulging that might lead them to find binge-eating candy less appealing in the future. He also suggests checking or frisking kids so they don’t sneak candy into their room at bedtime — also make sure they floss and brush after the binge.

Hsu said he’ll generally pull out sticky and sour candy, which can be worse for teeth.

“In the business of making cavities, contact time matters,” Hsu wrote on his blog. “The longer the food residue sits on the teeth, the more likely that they will cause tooth enamel to dissolve and weaken.”

He also takes control of the candy after the first night, and dispensing the treats with the kids’ lunches or for one-off sittings, so they aren’t constantly snacking on candy throughout the day. After about a week to 10 days, if there are any leftovers, he’ll take the candy to work to share. And he suggests eating candy before dinner, mentioning that if people drink water and eat a salad after having the candy, it can help return the mouth to a more favorable pH environment.

As for those who will be passing out treats, Hsu did explain that nonsugar options such as toys or pencil erasers are available.

“Kids love it when they get something that’s totally different,” Hsu said.

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Columbian staff writer