Halloween is approaching fast and we all know what that means: Indulging in stockpiles of tasty treats leaving most of us in a sugar induced coma. What most people don’t realize or perhaps forget is these treats can play some pretty damaging tricks on your teeth. So how can we enjoy the Halloween festivities while keeping the cavity bugs at bay?
First, we need to understand how cavities are formed. The culprit? SUGAR. When you eat a piece of candy, the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar producing an acid that dissolves the hard tissue (enamel) of your teeth. If your teeth are exposed to this acid frequently or for extended periods of time, this increases the likelihood of developing tooth decay (cavities). This means that it’s not so much about the amount of sugar you eat, since no amount of sugar is safe, but it’s more about the frequency with which you are exposing your teeth to sugar. For example, it’s actually better to eat 2 pieces of candy in 1 minute than it is to suck on a lollipop for 10 minutes. Why? Because in the second scenario your exposing your teeth to sugar for a longer period of time. The longer sugary foods stay in your mouth the greater risk for tooth decay.
Here are some ways we can apply this principle to our daily food regimen to help mitigate the sugar burden on our teeth while still being able to enjoy some Halloween sweets.
- Avoid snacking on candy and sweets in between meals. It’s better to eat your treats during meals or directly after meals.
- Drink more water to help flush out your mouth and reduce sugar adherence to your teeth.
- Avoid sticky candy like taffy or caramels that adhere to your teeth and are more difficult for your saliva to wash away.
- Avoid hard candies like lollipops and jolly ranchers since they take longer to consume and expose your teeth to sugar for longer intervals.
- Avoid sour candies that make you pucker. These are acidic, can weaken and damage your enamel and leave you more prone to cavities.
- Chew sugarless gum after meals to help increase saliva flow. Saliva works to help flush out the food and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria.
Among the masses of candy options these days, chocolate remains the best option in terms of dental health. Chocolate washes off the teeth more easily than sticky candies and can be consumed quicker than hard candies. And if you’re looking for an even healthier candy option, try dark chocolate! Dark chocolate has several proven health benefits including lowering blood pressure, reducing risk for heart disease, and being a source of antioxidants.
The absolute best way to ensure you’re in good dental health is to keep up with regular visits to your dentist, brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, and floss to remove food and bacteria that your toothbrush can’t reach. Keeping these tips in mind can save you a lot of dollars in the long run!