Dogwood Dental Health Centre's Dr. Laura Brandson revives a tradition from her own childhood and hands out Halloween-themed pencils and small toys instead of candies.

How to have a tooth-friendly Halloween

Fluoride, floss – and pencils – key to healthy trick-or-treating

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Dr. Laura Brandson remembers her mother handing out pencils to trick-or-treaters when she was a child.

Now that Dr. Brandson is a dentist she can see the appeal of giving out alternatives to treats such as Halloween-themed pencils and small toys.

Dr. Brandson, who is a co-owner at Dr. Kevin Lathangue, Dr. Laura Brandson & Associates located at the Dogwood Dental Health Centre in Campbell River, acknowledges that the Halloween season comes with candy, and often lots of it.

“I think the most important thing is to be really preventative,” she says, which includes brushing children’s teeth twice a day for one minute both in the morning and at night.

Is it wishful thinking to hope some types of candy are better for our teeth than others?

Unfortunately, Dr. Brandson says, “it’s all sugar. It’s really what we do after that’s most important.”

That includes remembering to floss, especially after an evening of treats, in order to get rid of sugars between the teeth that feed harmful oral bacteria.

Dr. Brandson adds that most children need help brushing and flossing at least until they can write their own name legibly, and she emphasizes the importance of using a toothpaste with fluoride, which strengthens children’s developing tooth structure and makes teeth more resistant to decay.

The Canadian Dental Association offers some additional tips for having a tooth-friendly Halloween. The CDA suggests talking to children about expectations (how much candy can they eat after trick-or-treating? What will the treats-per-day limit be?), and offering to trade small toys or a special outing for remaining candy after a couple weeks of consumption.  The organization also recommends checking treats at home to make sure everything is safe, and setting a daily “treat time” to limit snacking.

“Frequent snackers are at a greater risk of tooth decay as the mouth has constant acidic conditions that wear away at tooth enamel leading to cavities,” the CDA states.

But the most important step is to be proactive, Dr. Brandson says.

Does that mean she will be handing out pencils this year?

Dr. Brandson sidesteps the question with a laugh. “I don’t get many trick-or-treaters where I live.”

Learn more about the team of doctors at Dr. Kevin Lathangue, Dr. Laura Brandson & Associates located at the Dogwood Dental Health Centre – Dr.  Lathangue, Dr. Brandson, Dr. Mohammad, and Dr. Sidhu – at

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