Make Valentine’s Day a sweet treat that isn’t too sweet.

Since the early 1900s, chocolate has been a traditional Valentine’s Day gift. Today, it’s difficult to picture a holiday without some sort of sugary treat, but is it feasible to keep good oral health throughout such sugary occasions?

The tradition of candies on Valentine’s Day implies that your child is likely to be surrounded with sweets from classmates and peers to adoring grandparents and childhood sweethearts. Parents likely already know that too much sugar can negatively impact oral health, which leaves many to wonder how to control and curtail their child’s Valentine’s Day candy haul.

Orthodontists, like parents, don’t want children to lose out on the joy of Valentine goodies. However, orthodontists want to make sure you know how to assist your child take care of their teeth while they indulge, and they can give you some advice on how to keep it fun without all the sugar.

While chocolate is a popular Valentine’s Day candy, other sticky and hard candies, such as gummy bears and suckers, should be consumed in moderation. These candies are known for drenching the mouth in sugar, which adheres to the teeth and is extremely difficult to remove.

Many parents believe that brushing their children’s teeth immediately after eating sweets is the most reasonable option for preventing tooth decay, however this can really cause more harm than good. The grit in the candy shards acts as an abrasive, damaging and removing enamel. Rinse with water after eating sticky, hard candies to eliminate residue. After consuming the candy, wait one hour before brushing your teeth completely.

Now that you know what orthodontists recommend doing after the sweet stuff, let’s look at a few ways you can reduce the amounts of hard and sticky candies in your child’s Valentine’s Day treats. Consider some of the following delectable alternatives:

  • Make a beautiful fruit feast with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries in that heart-shaped box that kids adore.
  • Create veggie Valentine’s Day sandwiches on whole grain bread or cheese and fruit cutouts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
  • For a charming Cupid’s nest for breakfast, put the heart cookie cutter on a slice of whole grain bread, fill the hole with an egg, and griddle it. Honey added with a little organic red food coloring makes a nutritious syrup substitute, and the cookie cutter may also be used on whole grain waffles and pancakes.
  • You can make oatmeal and walnut cookies instead of typical chocolate chip and sugar cookies by replacing the oil and icing in traditional Valentine’s Day cakes with unsweetened applesauce.
  • Instead of ice cream with candy toppings, try frozen yogurt with fruit toppings. Instead of chocolate and caramel topping, use honey.
  • Fill heart-shaped ice cube trays with 100 percent natural fruit juice, such as cranberry juice. It’s a terrific substitute for gummy candies and popsicles. You may also use carbonated water instead of soda to make these.
  • Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, which are good for your health. Dip fresh fruits in it.
  • Remove the flavored crackers and chips from the equation. You can either prepare your own banana chips or a fruit dip with yogurt and honey.

These are just a few of the many ways to make Valentine’s Day delicious without all the sugar. You may not be able to control how much candy your child receives from others, and it’s fine to let them consume it in moderation, but you can help guarantee that it doesn’t get out of hand by making a few simple tweaks to your own Valentine’s Day treat offers.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Texas Association of Orthodontists!