Halloween is a celebration of make-believe, pumpkins, autumn, and most of all…candy. While kids wait all year for this holiday of endless sugar, it can often be a nightmare for parents. Candy usually contains sugar, which is the perfect environment for breeding bacteria that cause tooth decay. Consequently, to avoid future dental problems, it is important to keep two things in mind when eating candy:
1) Avoid excessive consumption of these sugary treats
2) Lessen the amount of time the sugar is present in the mouth
Dr. Margaret Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Dental Spa, a dental spa facility in Chicago’s Water Tower Place, offers the following tips for protecting children’s teeth at Halloween:
· Examine: Examine your child’s candy before he or she digs in to see if it meets your approval.
· Brushing: It is okay for your child to eat any candy that you approve of, but to help lessen the chance for tooth decay, have them brush as soon as possible after eating the candy. By brushing right after candy consumption, the impact of the candy on the teeth is minimal.
· Avoid: Avoid sticky candy such as taffy, gummy bears, caramel, etc. Sticky Candy adheres to teeth and leads to decay.
· Preparation: Prior to Halloween, visit your dentist to have sealants put into the child’s teeth grooves. This protects tooth enamel against decay caused by excess sugar.
If brushing soon after eating is not possible, here are these other tips that also can help:
· Together: Consume the candy with a meal. The increased saliva production while eating will help wash the sweet off the teeth.
· Rinse: Rinse the mouth with water.
· Gum: Chew a sugarless gum (especially those containing xylitol) after snacking on candy. The increased saliva from chewing will help wash the sugar off the teeth and xylitol gums help control the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
· Quickly: Eat the candy quickly in one sitting to decrease the amount of time it is contact with the teeth. Avoid eating any candy slowly over an extended time or over multiple sittings. Recent studies have shown that length of time eating a sweet can be more harmful than the amount of sweet consumed. This means hard candies, breath mints, etc. (long residence time in the mouth) can actually be worse for your teeth than a chocolate candy bar (shorter residence time in the mouth).
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