Halloween Candy: The Scary Facts
Halloween can be a ghoulish time of year for many parents who are haunted by the concern for their children’s oral health.
Sugar is the evil monster behind tooth decay and cavities. The horror of it all is that tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are left on the teeth too long. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these sugars and produce acid. The bacteria, acid and saliva form a sticky film called plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acid in the plaque attacks the tooth enamel causing tooth decay.
Instead of being frightened, parents should let their children enjoy Halloween candy but beware of “witch” and how much candy they allow their child to have.
After the trick or treating is over and your child is home with their “loot‟, dump out all the candy and examine it. Keep the candy that is less likely to cause cavities and toss any candy that is sticky, gummy or tacky such as caramels, candy corn, jelly beans, and taffy. These particular candies stick to the teeth making it hard for saliva to wash away the sugar. If your child has any pre-existing fillings, these candies can damage or even dislodge the fillings. You can keep the chocolate as it melts quickly which limits the mouth’s exposure to harmful sugars. Sour candy is the most horrifying of all Halloween treats due to its high acid-producing bacteria levels so make sure you toss that one!
With The Following Tips Halloween Doesn’t Have To Be a Nightmare:
- Monitor how often your child consumes sugar, rather than how much sugar is being consumed. It’s how often, not always how much that affects the chance of decay.
- Meals are a good time to have treats as a dessert and not as a stand alone snack because the production of saliva increases which helps wash away acidity in the mouth.
- Avoid hard candy. Biting on hard candy could land your child in the dentist’s chair with a cracked tooth. Sucking on hard candy will allow overexposure to sugars that dental plaque thrives on.
- Brush, rinse and floss teeth after eating candy or any sweet treat so your mouth does not become a lingering “sugar bath‟ for your teeth. Each time candy is eaten, the acid in the mouth can take up to an hour to dissipate. When brushing, use only fluoride tooth paste .
- Have your child chew sugarless gum after eating candy as this will help neutralize the effects of sugar. The American Dental Association has placed their seal of approval on several sugarless gums.
- Teach your child that candy and cavities have a connection and that excess sugar will cause cavities. Remind them that good choices lead to good health.
This Halloween, scare your child‟s ghoulish cavities away by having them brush, floss and rinse after eating sweets.