Valentine’s Day is a sweet holiday. Or should I say sweets holiday. I get it. One of my favorite ways to say “I love you” is with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies. And it seems my kids’ friends share the sentiment. Almost every one of their Valentines from school comes with a piece of candy to go with it. 

Valentine’s Day also happens to fall during National Children’s Dental Health Month. Coincidence? I think not. In fact, our entire February Issue featured a Q&A with local pediatric dentists on pandemic-era visits to the dentist

How do we as parents balance mountains of candy with a focus on dental health? Well, not all sweets are created equal when it comes to teeth. Here’s how to pick the best treats for healthy smiles.

Best Valentine’s Treats for Healthy Smiles

  1. Choose Chocolate

Chocoholics rejoice! Chocolate melts quickly meaning any cavity-causing sugar quickly dissipates. Dark chocolate gets an A+ for enamel-boosting, bacteria-fighting compounds. 

Pro tip: Look for chocolate bars with nuts. The crunchy texture gives teeth an extra scrub. 

  1. Steer Clear of Sticky Situations

I’m sorry to share some bad news to people whose sweet tooth demands gummy, sticky, chewy candy. Unlike chocolate, these candies linger on teeth and can get caught in tough-to-brush spaces. 

Pro tip: Start by eliminating sour candies first. The extra acid in these sweets make them one of the worst offenders. 

  1. Get the Timing Right 

Always save candy for after meals. The saliva produced while eating helps reduce the production and effect of cavity-causing bacteria. 

Pro tip: While you should drink water or chew gum after sweets, wait about an hour to brush. Before that, you’re just spreading bacteria!  

  1. Chew on This

Sugar-free gum + healthy teeth are mint to be! The practice of chewing gum can help rinse teeth and protect them from harmful bacteria.  

Pro tip: Look for gum with Xylitol. This natural sweetener is great at neutralizing bacteria.  

  1. Get creative 

If you want to include an add-on to your child’s class Valentines, consider a non-food item. Pair their cards with stickers, bubbles or a small toy instead.