Survey of Chicago Area Dentists Reveal Halloween Attitudes, Habits

Oct 13, 2009, 11:41 ET from Chicago Dental Society

80 percent sneak their kid's candy!

CHICAGO, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Do dentists get the creeps at Halloween? You bet -- but not for the reason you might expect. Turns out, they struggle with their sweet tooth too.

In September, the Chicago Dental Society surveyed 37 dentists on their attitudes toward Halloween. Perhaps surprisingly, the vast majority of dentists had a positive opinion of the holiday, with 92 percent reporting that they would be participating in this year's festivities. (The top goody to give out? Chocolate.)

However, if there was something less than bewitching about Halloween for our dentists, it was the effect the holiday has on adults -- and their waistlines.

With candy everywhere, even the most steel-willed can be tempted to overindulge. In our survey, 80 percent of dentists with children at home 'fessed up to sneaking candy from their children's Halloween bag. Ten percent admitted that they eat their Halloween stash before the big day, necessitating a last-minute run to the store so that they have something to give out to trick-or-treaters.

Adding to that temptation are aisles of candy invading stores before kids have returned to school. Half of our dentists surveyed say that they buy too much candy at Halloween. "This year, it wasn't even Labor Day, and there was already Halloween candy in the stores. Too early!" groaned Villa Park, Ill., dentist Dr. John Hauwiller.

Here are our top tips from dentists for overcoming temptation during Halloween:

  • Buy candy you don't like. This was the top-suggested stratagem among all our dentists. "I can't stand malted milk balls, like Whoppers. So they are a perfect item to hand out and not worry about snacking myself," said Chicago dentist Dr. Adrian Codel.
  • Keep the candy hidden until the big day. "Out of sight, out of mind" was the mantra of our dentists. Suggestions included keeping it in the car trunk, the freezer or under lock and key to avoid temptation. "Buy a padlock for the candy jar, if necessary," suggested Harvard, Ill., dentist Dr. Joseph Hagenbruch jokingly.
  • Get rid of leftovers. Most of our dentists reported having leftover candy. Their top ways to deal with it were take it to work (29%); give it away (20%) and throw it away (11%). Forty percent admitted they "just eat it."
  • Treat yourself in other ways. Chicago dentist Dr. Joanne Oppenheim swears off all candy between Halloween and New Year's and instead enjoys the other holiday goodies available, a plan she has been following for about eight years now. Elmhurst dentist Dr. Christopher Choyke similarly foregoes the mini Snickers and instead treats himself to a slice of homemade apple pie after Halloween.
  • Give out something other than candy. While most dentists surveyed said they will be giving out candy this year, non-edible items, like crayons, stickers, glow sticks, and gift certificates or encouraging donations to groups like UNICEF are other options.
  • Enjoy in moderation. Most dentists surveyed said that completely denying yourself any fun on Halloween was a sure path to misery -- or being a stick in the mud. "It's only one day a year, so don't get too hung up on too many sweets," advised Wilmette dentist Dr. Marv Schumer.

A last piece of advice from our dentists: Keep up a good oral health care regimen at home. Brush your teeth after eating candy (or at the very least, rinse with water), in addition to your regular brushing and flossing.

"Realistically, for patients with otherwise good habits, a one-time celebratory pig-out isn't going to destroy their teeth," conceded Skokie dentist Dr. Susan Becker Doroshow.

The Chicago Dental Society will be helping Chicagoans with that last piece of advice by handing out toothbrushes and toothpaste to trick-or-treaters at Lincoln Park Zoo's Spooky Zoo on Saturday, October 24. More than 30,000 children are expected to attend.

The Chicago Dental Society is an association for dentists in the metro Chicago area, organizer of the annual Midwinter Meeting and advocate for improving oral health for all. It is the largest local branch of the American Dental Association and the Illinois State Dental Society.

SOURCE Chicago Dental Society