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Halloween Fun and Dental Health

All candy can cause tooth decay because of the sugar content. Sticky candies are the worst – caramels, gummies, jelly beans, and taffy. Not only do they contain sugar which can stick to the tooth surface causing tooth decay, they can also pull out fillings leading to the need for more restoration, and the more one tooth has to be restored the weaker that tooth becomes. Chocolate is the best of the candies, it doesn’t stick and is easily brushed away.

A little lesson in tooth decay; Our bodies produce plaque bacteria naturally every 20 minutes or so. When plaque remaining in the mouth mixes with sugar it forms an acid and that’s how decay begins, acid eats through the enamel and a cavity is formed.

How do you avoid the increased risk of decay around Halloween when kids are exposed to so much candy? If your kids are anything like mine, weeks before Halloween even starts they are already calculating the loot they will get.

One of the best ways to avoid tooth decay at Halloween is to allow the kids a time period to eat what they want, say maybe Halloween night and some time during the next day and then get rid of the rest. Grazing, as we call it, little bits of candy each day for short periods of times is actually more harmful than a one time big exposure. Back to the tooth decay lesson: plaque acts like a sponge and has a certain absorbency capacity, so once it’s saturated with sugar adding more and more sugar at the same particular time  won’t do any more harm. But if you are exposed to a little bit of sugar at regular intervals you increase your chances of tooth decay because that plaque “sponge” never gets fully saturated and becomes a continual source of decay potential.

So, what can you do?

  • have children brush and floss extra thoroughly
  • limit exposure to a once and done
  • donate extra candy to a good cause, a charity organization, a food bank or send a candy care package with a nice note to some military serving overseas.
  • or bring your candy to my office from November 2nd – November 13th and I will donate it to the Shoreline Soup kitchen in my patient’s name.

photo courtesy of: www.freeimages.co.uk/index.htm

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