TTUHSC El Paso Staff Senate Promotes a Candy-Free Halloween

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Staff Senate is continuing its tradition of collecting non-candy items to give to children receiving treatment at El Paso Children’s Hospital.

“In terms of your teeth, anytime that you take in a sugar and/or a fermentable carbohydrate like a fruit, fruit juice, honey—any of those items—the bacteria in your mouth break those foods down into an acid, and that acid eats away at the enamel of your teeth,” said Wendy Woodall, D.D.S., professor and associate dean of academic affairs for the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso.

“We know that you can’t regrow enamel. So anytime you can redirect your child away from sugar, it’s best for your teeth, and it’s best for your body in general.”

Staff Senate officials thought that TTUHSC El Paso, a health sciences center with a dental school in development, should send a message of a healthy approach to Halloween, with gifts of non-candy items that would still offer plenty of fun for youngsters.

Because of the damage sugar does to teeth, some parents go the non-candy route for Halloween—a strategy that dentists wholeheartedly support.

Pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks and coloring books were among the items collected this fall that will be delivered in 35 goodie bags on Halloween.

Dr. Woodall said some options for non-candy items to give out include simple, safe toys or party favors—items that will give longer enjoyment than candy.

But if you’re going to let your child have candy, there are ways to reduce the risk of damage to teeth.

“Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste or using a fluoride mouth rinse is best because the fluoride is going to work to replace the calcium that came out of your teeth,” Dr. Woodall said.  “If you can’t do that, you should rinse your mouth with water, and it would lower the amount of sugar that’s attacking your teeth.”