Halloween Candy and Dental Health
The spookiest time of year is great fun for the young and old, but beneath the veil lies a dark side. The tradition of consuming large amounts of candy is usually a huge risk to dental health. The sugar traces that remain in the mouth attract bacterial activity. As bacteria consume the sugar, it secretes a weak acid that eats into the teeth enamel, causing cavities and increasing tooth sensitivity. Not only can these conditions prove painful, but they can cost a lot to treat. Here are a few tips to help limit the risk of this occurring:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily helps remove the remnants of food and candy that will damage teeth. Brush in the morning and evening, for at least two minutes each time, covering all the surfaces of your teeth.
- Limit your intake of high-sugar and starchy foods. These encourage bacterial activity in the mouth. Try to avoid such snacks between meals as this provides long periods of exposure whereby bacteria will spend more time producing acid. Opt instead for low-risk foods like raw vegetables, low sugar fruits, nuts, plain yogurt or cheese.
Enjoy at mealtimes
Saliva does a good job of cleaning the mouth of food particles and is at its highest production during your top meals. In some cases, it may be better to have your candy during or just after your primary meals, if you must. Drinking more water at this time will also help in washing away food particles. Additionally, fluoride has been proven to aid in preventing tooth decay so brush after meals for best results.
- Choose wisely and once. Try to avoid sticky candies like toffee and gummy bears. When they get stuck on and between your teeth, it takes longer to get rid of them, providing a greater chance for bacteria to consume them.
- Visit your dentist twice annually. To ensure your teeth remain in good shape, be sure to visit your dentist twice a year for an exam and professional cleaning. Even with religious brushing, there will be some level of dental plaque buildup that requires a professional to eradicate.
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Convincing younger children of the dangers of candy can be difficult but still achievable.
- Take time to talk with your child about dental health and set limits where you can so they enjoy the “sweet festivities” but in moderation.
- Have them pick out a few of their favorite candies and have them donate the rest. Let them feel good about giving to charity and they are less likely to resent the action.
- Limit the number of houses to trick-or-treat at or give them a smaller bucket. This can help you limit the amount of candy they collected at the end of trick or treating.
- Arrange for a no-sugar swap. If your child collects a lot of candy, trade some of it with non-sugar rewards like toys or books.
- Encourage their brushing habit by regularly switching out their toothbrushes with something colorful and fun. Many stores offer kids toothbrushes with beloved cartoon character designs.
- Ensure your child brushes and flosses correctly and regularly to limit how much time sugar from the candy remains on their teeth. If you supervise them regularly when young, it easily becomes a lifelong habit.
As you set up to welcome your own trick-or-treaters or opt to dip into the candy bucket yourself, it is smart to know which candies to avoid and those to indulge.
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In and Out
In: Sugar-free gum and candy are good for stimulating saliva production. If not sweet enough for you, choose hard candies as they also encourage saliva production during consumption. Dark chocolate is a healthier option than white and milk chocolate bars. It is heart-healthy and gives a boost in antioxidants.
Out: As mentioned, try to stay away from sticky sweet candies like toffee, gummy bears, and taffy. Sour candies are also problematic as they are more acidic, eating into the tooth’s enamel. Any high sugar snacks like cake and candied fruit should also be avoided.
We hope you can take some of these pointers and implement them in your home to provide your children and the rest of the parties in your household, with good healthy dental habits. If you’ve already done some damage and a skilled professional is required, reach out to Summerlin, Las Vegas’s top dentist, Dr. Suffoletta. If you’re out of the state, don’t worry. A nice vacation and dental work on your last day in Vegas is already waiting for you.