Have you heard of the Three Day Rule?

Halloween is coming!

The objective of this rule is to allow your child to join in the merriment of Halloween without causing a lot of dental problems. The worst thing a child can do with his or her Halloween candy is to have it and eat small portions each day for several weeks or months. This daily dose of sugar will raise the bacterial count in the mouth. The bacteria that cause dental decay eat what you eat. Their digestive systems are not sophisticated, so they depend on our salivary enzymes to turn the food we eat into simple sugars before they can ingest it.

If we eat unsweet food, the bacteria have to wait a while before they can begin their meal. This is good, because it gives us time to swallow the food we put in our mouth and hopefully go brush our teeth to remove most of the rest. However, when we eat a food that is already a simple sugar, the bacteria do not need to wait! The bacteria can immediately start their own feeding frenzy.

When one eats candy, the bacteria in your mouth are given a dose of nourishment, which sets off a round of cell division, multiplying the numbers of bacteria. If one eats candy every day, this quickly gets out of hand, and it's no wonder that decay occurs.


When the kids return with their Halloween candy they can eat as much of it as they like before bed that night, and as much as they like whenever they like for two days after Halloween. (Sounds pretty disgusting, doesn't it?) Then before bed on that third day, (Halloween plus two days) the children must hand over any remaining candy for discarding. There is rarely any left.

Why is this good?

  • The bacterial count has been raised for a short time - not long enough for a cavity to form. After the three days it can slide back to normal.
  • You have avoided the stigma of prohibition.

  • You have allowed the child to experience overindulgence and the discomfort or even revulsion that accompanies it.

  • You have avoided all that nagging, and those self doubts about the quality of your parenthood.

An aside about Halloween. If you live in an area where children can actually go to private residences to trick or treat, consider these further guidelines.

Trick or Treating is for the little ones. Start programming your children early that after the age of ten he or she will probably be the one to give candy at the door rather than roam the neighborhood.

One parent should always go with the kids trick or treating. How else can you know where they go to get their treats? Only let the kids go to houses where you actually know the people living there. This not only lets you not worry about the safety of any of the treats, but keeps the child from going on a crazy quest for unbelievable quantities of candy.