Halloween is around the corner, which for most children means bags of free candy and easy access to all kinds of sweets. It’s also a pretty tempting holiday for adults. Here are a few great ways everyone can protect themselves from the dreaded “Halloween Teeth”!
“Of course, dentists do not advocate that children eat large amounts of sugary treats, but it is that time of year, so we want to clarify for parents which treats are better for their kids’ teeth and which ones may increase the risk of developing cavities,” says AGD spokesperson Cynthia Sherwood, DDS, FAGD.
- Chewy/sticky sweets, such as gummy candies, taffy, and even dried fruit can be difficult for children and adults to resist, and even more difficult to remove from teeth as they take longer to get washed away by saliva. Besides how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
- Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down tooth enamel quickly. The good news: Saliva slowly helps to restore the natural balance of the acid in the mouth. Dr. Sherwood recommends that patients wait 30 minutes to brush their teeth after consuming sour/acidic candies; otherwise, they will be brushing the acid onto more tooth surfaces and increasing the risk of enamel erosion.
- Sugary snacks, including candy corn, cookies, and cake, all contain high amounts of sugar, which can cause tooth decay.
- Beverages with added sugar. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased. Drinking optimally fluoridated watercan help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.
- Hard candies, too. Besides how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in developing cavities. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.
- Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies stimulate saliva, which can help prevent dry mouth. “A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities,” Dr. Sherwood says.
- Instead of candy, consider gum. Sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities as it not only dislodges food particles from between the teeth but also increases saliva—which works to neutralize the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay. Studies show that chewing sugarless gumfor 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria.
- Dark chocolate and its antioxidants, according to some studies, can be good for the heart and may even lower blood pressure.
One final tip: try and eat candy with your meals. We know candy can be hard to resist, especially have all that hard work trick or treating for it! If you can, try and eat Halloween candy and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime. That’s because saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.
Do your best to take good care of your mouth and avoid “Halloween Teeth”! We are always here to help, support, and answer any questions you have. Feel free to contact us or make an appointment at any of our Eagle Rock Dental Care locations.