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Run for your lives! Halloween is coming!

October 21, 2010
(Los Angeles Times )

Halloween is upon us, which means it's time for the most ridiculously alarmist warnings from doctors, dentists and healthcare specialists about the evils of the holiday. You thought you and your kids were going to have a good time? Forget it. It's all gloom and doom. The second you step out your door or put one piece of candy in your mouth it's over. Got that? Over. Tooth decay, obesity and an airplane hangar full of germs are one Snickers away.

Let's start with the news release we got from an orthodontist reminding us that October is National Orthodontic Health Month. Hmmm...a coincidence?

"Potato chips..gummy bears...cookies...Tootsie Rolls...taffy...graham crackers," reads the release. "Which of these treats can be terrifying for teeth? Would you believe, ALL of them?" OMG it's horrifying! Lord knows people with braces don't have a lick of sense about what to eat.

No braces? That's OK. You still need to be wary on Oct. 31, says Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"When cute little goblins are knocking at your door asking for tricks or treats, you may be putting them at risk for childhood obesity," their news release says. "To combat this chronic illness, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is taking a different spin on Halloween with Hallowellness."

Hallowellness? Seriously?

Here are some suggestions they give for alternatives to candy: toothbrushes and toothpaste, fruit, small water bottles, activity books and our favorite, hand sanitizer. Stand by for house egging in 3...2...1...

It's a big season for dentists, so we weren't surprised that many of the panicky e-mails were from them. Drs. Greg Diamond and Jacqueline Fulop Goodling would like you to know that the holidays are "better known to dental professionals as the season of oral health nightmares!" That's a nonstop corridor of hell from Halloween to Valentine's Day. And it's not even the kids they're worried about--it's the grown-ups!

"[A]dults have no one looking over their shoulder to be sure they're taking care of themselves like children do," says Dr. Diamond in a news release. "As surprising as it might sound, adults are more likely than their children to go to bed without brushing their teeth, overeat foods that have damaging effects on their teeth, and neglect seeing a dentist when an issue arises because they're so busy this time of year." Too busy to floss? Santa's going to make a note of that.

And what about kids on restricted diets? No need to fear Halloween with, a website that allows parents and kids to "...make a custom trick-or-treating map of their area, showing the homes that will be giving out Halloween treats that they can enjoy. Homes and business that will be serving specialty candy can mark themselves on the map, indicating whether their treats will be suitable for vegan, nut-free, diabetic, organic, kosher, gluten-free, or raw diets."

Maybe it's just us, but we're guessing very few children are on a raw diet. But let's say they are, and let's suppose they find a house--one they're not familiar with--that's giving out fresh fruit. Kids are supposed to eat that fruit? Oh, and make sure to read the 11-point disclaimer on the site before signing up.

Another dentist offered this tip for parents: "Examine your child's candy to see if it meets your approval." Nothing like raiding little Madison's treat bag and taking all the good stuff. We're sure that little incident won't scar her for life. Anyway, more Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for Mom and Dad!

And then there was this curious news release: "I wanted to gauge your interest in a rather off-the-wall, Halloween-related foot story. People typically develop toe fungus in colder months, when we bury our feet in sweaty, close-toed shoes--breeding ground for fungi. It's an embarrassing infection that most people think about treating in spring, just ahead of sandal weather. But by then, it's too late. Fortunately, there are ways to privately treat fungal infections."

We'd wonder more about the association with Halloween if we weren't so grossed out by the subject matter.

We did find some pearls that made sense. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., suggests that parents and children not text while trick or treating so they can stay alert.

And the Center for Bone and Joint Disease in Florida issued a release with safety tips for pumpkin carving, such as not using razor blades to carve and making sure hands are dry.

Before every molecule of fun is sucked dry from this holiday, let's remember that Halloween is one day, not an entire year of candy debauchery. Use common sense and we're sure everything will work out just fine.

--Jeannine Stein / Los Angeles Times

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