Keep the fright away from your bite!

Fall is sweet: from the beautiful cooler temperatures and colorful leaves, to every kid’s favorite night—Halloween. It’s easy to see why kids love Halloween; they get to dress up, have fun with their friends, and take home a huge haul of candy at the end of the night. But when it comes to oral health, that candy can be a nightmare.

Candy is high in sugar, and sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay in mouths of any age. When sugary particles get stuck in your teeth, they can often stay there, causing a layer of plaque to form and bacteria to make itself at home in your mouth. This bacteria breaks particles down for fuel which increases the acidity in your mouth. That acidity can cause the protective layers of your teeth to erode, letting bacteria permeate the surface and damage the teeth, potentially permanently.

Plaque can also cause irreparable damage to teeth if not consistently removed. Plaque is soft and sticky to begin with, so as you can imagine, consuming soft, sticky candy—like gummies and caramel—only increases the likelihood of plaque formation. Sour candies and hard candies are double threats, because not only can the stickiness get trapped in your teeth, but the acidity of sour candies can harm the enamel, and hard candies could break your teeth if they are bitten down on.

But there’s good news for chocolate lovers! While chocolate is still sugary, and can harm the teeth if it remains on the surface for an extended period, it does not bond to the nooks and crannies of teeth in the same sticky way as soft, gummy, or sour candies.

For these reasons, we recommend staying away from candy altogether, and opting for less harmful treats like stickers, spider rings, glow-in-the-dark party favors, or trail mix. But if your kids do end up with more candy than they would typically be allowed to have, there are ways to minimize the harm.

It’s always good to stay hydrated, but that becomes especially important after a rush of sugar. Drinking water after indulging in a Halloween treat will rinse out some of the sugar more than saliva can on its own. Brushing teeth after candy is also a great idea, but only after 30 minutes have gone by. Waiting before brushing allows the saliva to stabilize the pH of the mouth and helps avoid adding more corrosiveness to the surface of the teeth caused by acidic candies.

Another idea is to limit the time of day when your kids can dig into their stash. After dinner is a perfect time to let kids have a piece or two, especially since they will be brushing their teeth soon after, right before bedtime.

In summary, here are our tips for a spooKLEAN Halloween:

  • Be selective when keeping candy: chocolate can be rinsed away easily, and sticky candy cannot.
  • Set a limit: one or two pieces each night after dinner is a great place to start.
  • Wash it away with water: a big glass of water is the best way to combat a sugar overload.
  • Donate your candy: send candy to service people who will not get to have Halloween at home.

The most important tip is to brush and floss regularly—all the time, not just on Halloween—and to make sure your child comes to see us for regular cleanings. Is it about that time? Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Tip-or-Treat! Ideas for a Healthy Halloween

Halloween is almost here! Which also means a lot of sugary candy is about to make its way into your house. Too much of anything—especially Halloween candy—can be bad for your teeth and your overall health.

We’ve compiled some tips you can keep in mind to keep your family as healthy as possible this Halloween and all year long:

 

  1. Give candy dessert duty
    As you eat your meals, saliva production increases to help wash away the bacteria and particles that may get left behind. If you limit Halloween candy consumption to the time right after a meal, the saliva will do its job and eliminate excess sugar from your mouth.

 

  1. Sticky is tricky
    Sticky candies do just that—stick. Even if you have sticky candies like gummies or taffy right after a meal, your saliva may not be powerful enough to wash it away. As the sticky candy clings to your teeth, it increases your risk of decay.

 

  1. Embrace the bubble
    Sugarless gum is a great way to extend your post-meal increased saliva production. The act of chewing and the saliva that follows will help wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria. It’ll also keep your mind off of having another piece of candy.

 

  1. Candy is not a snack
    Halloween candy comes in small sizes, that just because it’s “snack sized” doesn’t mean you should snack on it all day long. Candy bowls are easy to reach into, but a constant supply of sugar to the mouth isn’t good for your teeth or your body, and you’ll increase your chances of cavities.

 

  1. The quicker the better
    The longer candy stays in your mouth, the more opportunity the sugar has to make its way into all of your nooks and crannies. By choosing treats that are chewable—not hard—you’ll be shortening the amount of time the sugar has to make itself at home.

 

  1. Don’t force it
    Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. While it may be hard to part ways with hard-earned candy after a long night of trick-or-treating, we recommend only keeping your favorites. Not only does that limit your intake, but it’s also a chance to donate less-loved treats to a charitable organization.

 

  1. Say no to soda
    The only thing more harmful to teeth than eating sugar is drinking it. Popular drinks like soda, sports drinks, flavored waters, and energy drinks are loaded with sugar that coats your teeth. These drinks can have just as much—or more—sugar in them than a candy bar, so reach for water instead.

 

  1. Water is wonderful
    Ditch the soda for water. Not only will big gulps of water help wash away Halloween sugar, but it’s also preventative. Fluoridated water is a great weapon for fighting tooth decay by adding a protective layer to your teeth. If fluoride doesn’t exist naturally in your water, you can purchase bottled water that contains fluoride as an ingredient.

 

  1. Back to brushing basics
    No matter what time of year it is or how much candy is in your house, the golden rule of dental hygiene remains the same: brush twice a day for two minutes, and floss once a day. We recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months and using soft bristles to keep your gums from getting irritated.

 

If it’s been a while since your last cleaning, kick off these tips with a trip to Dr. Sraon. Seeing you will be a treat!