By Genni Burkhart
When the American tradition of trick-or-treating on Halloween was introduced in the 1930s and 1940s, children were given homemade cookies, cakes, fruits, nuts, toys, and even coins. As trick-or-treating became increasingly popular in the 1950s, candy manufacturers seized the opportunity to promote their goods. Halloween is now a 10.6 billion dollar industry, with consumers spending an average of $100 on seasonal candy alone.
While a dentist invented cotton candy, dentists are typically seen as the killjoys of Halloween. And let's face it, children love nothing less than being given a lecture and asked to hand over their sweets on Halloween.
Certainly, one of the more alluring aspects of Halloween is that it permits uninhibited behavior, such as indulging one's sweet tooth without censure. The last thing you want to do is take away joy and replace it with criticism.
Fortunately, the Incisor has compiled the best ways to keep your patients' oral health on track that won't make you or your staff the party-poopers of Halloween. With these spooktacular suggestions, you can help your patients keep their oral health in check while enjoying Halloween to the fullest!
Themed, Team Costumes
Everyone loves to talk about their favorite movies and shows, and dressing as your favorite character is a great way to generate buzz. Creating a theme for your Halloween costumes and dressing up together is even better. Some of the top movies and TV shows inspiring costumes this year include Stranger Things, Ted Lasso, Wednesday, Barbie, and Top Gun: Maverick.
This Long Island dentist fully committed to their office theme of 'Stranger Things' in a "Hollywood-quality" costume. In fact, local news stations reported that patients and families in the community who heard about it came in to see it. Now, that's one way to market your dental practice!
Other group costumes the entire office can participate in include child-friendly Disney characters or an array of bronze sports trophies.
Create a Buzz on Social Media
Contests and giveaways on social media are the best way to reach patients and create Halloween buzz around your business.
Prizes should promote good oral health through free services or gifts from your practice. Get creative with videos reminding patients about the importance of caring for their teeth during Halloween. For example, do a "live Q&A" on social media on how to avoid painful, dangerous, and costly TikTok dental trends with safe alternatives.
You can also go even bigger and hold smaller contests that lead up to one big grand prize. For example, offer a free consultation, tooth whitening, or clear aligner session. Create unique and fun ideas, such as pumpkin carving contests with a tooth-centric theme or a #HalloweenThrowback for nostalgic photos on social media.
Teach, Don't Preach
Patients should be educated about the effects of candy on their teeth - but in an effective way.
Inform patients that not all candy is equal regarding their teeth. For example, there are "better" options for candy, such as chocolate (the darker, the better) because it washes away easily.
Enlighten patients on all that is sticky, gummy, chewy, and sour and how it relates to oral health. As complete avoidance might not be likely, educate patients on the importance of drinking plenty of water and brushing after eating candy.
Offer goodie bags with sugar-free candy, gum, water bottles, candy-flavored dental floss, and Halloween-themed toothbrushes and toothpaste to help drive home the message and serve as a post-sugar rush reminder to care for their teeth.
It is more beneficial to explain to patients why they should avoid these treats rather than preaching what not to do. Educating patients allows them to enjoy their Halloween indulgences while also reminding them to keep up with good oral hygiene habits.
Halloween can be a great way to have fun with staff and connect with patients. So, take advantage of this opportunity to have fun with your patients. Remind patients they don't have to sacrifice oral health for one day of fun. After all, National Brush Day is on November 1st.
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Author: With over 13 years as a published journalist, editor, and writer, Genni Burkhart's career has spanned politics, healthcare, law, business finance, technology, and news. She resides in Northern Colorado, where she works as the Editor in Chief of the Incisor at DOCS Education.