Halloween is just around the corner, and soon your neighborhood will be full of costumed children hoping to scare up a few treats. While an overflowing bag of candy is sure to bring your kids delight, it is important to remember that Halloween sweets can be scary for teeth. This year, keep your kids cavity-free by using these fun tricks for minimizing the potential damage that comes along with the treats.

Eat Dinner Before Heading Out

The evening of Halloween can be hectic with everyone rushing to get into their costumes and kids who can hardly wait to visit their family and friends. However, spending a few minutes preparing dinner is well worth the effort. By eating first, you can ensure that your kids arrive home with full tummies. This will make it much easier for them to wait to eat their candy until they get home where you can help them pick out one or two that are less likely to cause trouble.

Choose Teeth-Friendly Candy

While you have likely been told to steer clear of sugar for overall better health, it is important to note that not all candy is created equal when it comes to teeth. Sticky candies, such as caramel and nougats, are more likely to adhere to the enamel and contribute to decay. Chocolate, however, quickly dissolves and some brands contain a hint of calcium. Although, its preferable to avoid the candy altogether, offer a chocolate piece if you know your kids will indulge.

Set Firm Limits

When it comes to Halloween candy, every family has their method for getting rid of it. Some parents prefer to let their kids binge the first night out of the hope they get it out of their system while others dole it out over a couple of weeks. Before your kids hit the neighborhood, make sure they know the rules. If you only allow two pieces a night, then allow them to choose, and put the rest away where only you have access.

Consider a Candy Buy Back Program

Many pediatricians, dentists and hospitals offer kids a chance to “sell back” their candy for healthier options. Gift cards, stuffed toys, stickers and other treats are often offered to kids who opt to exchange their candy. Look for a program such as this in your neighborhood, or offer an exchange yourself that includes a special surprise that you know your child desires. Ideally, talk to your child about this option before they go trick-or-treating and lose themselves in the excitement of digging through their Halloween bounty.

Throw A Party

Trick-or-treating isn’t the only way to have fun on Halloween, and many kids will be excited about doing something new. Consider throwing a party at your home or on your neighborhood block. Then, your kids can still dress up and have fun with their friends, while you maintain control over the amount of sugar they consume. Going to the movies in costume, visiting grandparents and touring a haunted house are a few more alternate activities that can steer your kids away from the candy.

Give Healthy Treats

So maybe only a dentist would give out toothbrushes on Halloween, however, you can still give sugar-free treats while keeping it fun. Stickers, glow sticks and spooky child-sized jewelry are always big hits this time of year. Pretzels, popcorn and other kid-friendly snacks are also a welcome alternative to all the sugary treats. As an added bonus, the less sweet treats you have in the house means that your kids will have less access to cavity-causing candy.

This year, protect your kids from the haunting reality of cavities by including some strategic planning in your Halloween festivities. In addition to these ideas, make sure that your kids brush and floss after their Halloween binge and see their dentist for a regular exam. By being proactive, you can scare away potential cavities while providing your kids with a fun, healthy holiday.