HALLOWEEN IS OUR favorite spooky time of year, but when it comes to sugar’s effects on teeth, all that candy can be downright scary. The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that it feeds harmful oral bacteria that excrete acid, and the acid erodes enamel and leads to tooth decay. So how can we keep our costumed Halloween adventures clear of tooth decay?
Ranking Candy Based On Dental Health
Very few houses give away treats like sugar-free xylitol gum to trick-or-treaters, so the chances are slim that the candy will actually be healthy. However, some types of sugary candy are worse than others or present different problems.
Hard candy is a problem because there is a risk of breaking our teeth if we chew it, but sucking on it is not safe either because that means holding a sugar source in our mouths for an extended period of time.
Sour candies are like a double attack against dental health. Not only do they contain a lot of sugar to feed the bacteria, but they are also highly acidic and can harm our enamel directly.
Sticky or gummy candy is especially bad because it remains stuck in the grooves of teeth, feeding the bacteria for longer and giving them more of an opportunity to attack the enamel.
The good news is that the least harmful sugary candy is chocolate It does not stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar will be in it, so aim for dark chocolate.
Reducing Candy Quantity
Being picky about which types of candy we eat is one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but an even better way to do so is by eating less candy. Parents can help their children with this by coming up with a plan before trick-or-treating time. For example, they can let them trade the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize or limit the number of houses they visit. Be sure to discuss the plan in advance so that everyone is in agreement.
More Tooth-Healthy Strategies
There are a few other simple things you can do to reduce the dental effects of all that Halloween candy. Drinking more water to rinse out the sugar, limiting the frequency of candy consumption more than the quantity, and waiting thirty minutes to brush your teeth after eating candy will all be beneficial. The reason for that last one is that it takes your saliva about half an hour to stabilize the pH of your mouth after eating sugar.
Keeping Teeth Healthy Year-Round
The Halloween season will come to an end, but the job of keeping our teeth healthy is never done! Make sure you are always brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, keeping those sugary treats to a minimum, and scheduling regular dental visits! Call (217)698-9300 to schedule an appointment today.
Have a spooky Halloween!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.