It’s that time of year again when children everywhere will ring doorbells, gleefully demand treats, and happily set about rotting their teeth. Okay, that might be a bit strong, but it’s true that excessive Halloween candy consumption isn’t good for young teeth. You can minimize the risk to your children’s teeth by following these teeth-friendly candy suggestions from Dr. Kenneth Weddell of Weddell Dental in Bloomington, MN.
Sugar, Sugar, Sugar
Contrary to popular wisdom, sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities. Sugar serves as a food source for certain bacteria that live in the mouth. Those bacteria form a thin, sticky film called dental plaque that collects on the gum line around the teeth. Plaque keeps bacteria in close contact with dental enamel, and when those bacteria eat sugar, they produce acid. That acid is what attacks tooth enamel and creates cavities.
It’s not just the amount of sugar, though, it’s also the amount of time that sugar remains in the mouth. Sticky candies like toffee, caramel, and even popcorn balls wedge into the tiny grooves in the teeth and stick between the teeth. That makes those sugar sources hard to brush away, and parents everywhere struggle to get their children to brush and floss thoroughly.
Sour balls are another problem. Sour balls contain a fair amount of acid, and they’re usually held in the mouth for long periods of time. That acid can also attack and weaken tooth enamel in addition to the acid produced by bacteria.
Believe It Or Not
The better choice in Halloween candy, teeth-wise, is chocolate. The reasons why chocolate is better than sticky candies is that chocolate dissolves pretty readily in the mouth. It’s also much easier to remove any traces while brushing and flossing.
Dark chocolate actually contains flavonoids that slow tooth decay, making it the best choice for your children at Halloween. However, the amount of candy and the frequency with which it’s eaten, is also a factor.
If possible, try to keep candy snacks to times when your children will be brushing their teeth within a few hours. After dinner is a good time. When that’s not possible, try to encourage your kids to drink water and to rinse their mouths.
Halloween Doesn’t Have To Be All About Candy
Parents, take heart. In recent years, there’s been a shift away from giving out Halloween candy in favor of other kid-friendly treats. Stickers and glow sticks are big hits with younger kids. Bubbles are a great idea as are “spooky” accessories that are widely available at low cost.
You can also engineer a swap with your children – some of their candy for some of the fun items listed above. You may well have some left over from the trick-or-treaters who ring your doorbell.
An Ounce Of Prevention
If you follow the tips above, you’ll minimize the danger of Halloween candy to your children’s teeth. You might want to schedule a post-Halloween cleaning and checkup for your children to make sure that there aren’t any lingering problems. Call Weddell Dental in Bloomington, MN today at 952-679-1365 for an appointment.