Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tips on Halloween Candy and Tooth Decay

By Dr. Margaret Mitchell, DDS

Kids love candy, and Halloween is a great time to celebrate that love. However, what are parents to do if they are worried about tooth decay from all this candy consumption? As the owner of the Mitchell Dental Spa in Chicago’s Water Tower Place, I would like to share some thoughts on this subject.

Candy usually contains sugar, which the bacteria that cause tooth decay dine on. So eating a food loaded with carbohydrate or sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Consequently, to avoid negative impacts from candy, we have to do two things:

1) Avoid excessive consumption of these sugary treats

2) Lessen the amount of time the sugar is present in the mouth

Here are some of my suggestions:

· Examine your child’s candy to see if it meets your approval.

· It is okay for your child to eat any candy that you approve of, but to help lessen the chance of tooth decay, have them brush as soon as possible after eating the candy. If a child or adult brushes right after, the impact of the candy on the teeth is minimal.

· Avoid sticky candy, such as taffy, gummy bears, caramel, etc. Sticky candy adheres to teeth and causes decay.

· Kids can eat candy ANYTIME; there is not a good time of day or night to eat candy.

· Prior to Halloween, visit your dentist to have sealants put into the child’s teeth grooves.

If brushing soon after eating is not possible, then try the following:

· Consume the candy with a meal. The increased saliva production while eating will help wash the sweet residue off the teeth.

· Rinse the mouth with water.

· Chew a sugarless gum (especially one containing xylitol) after snacking on candy. The increased saliva from chewing will help wash the sugar off the teeth, and xylitol-fortified gums help control the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

· Eat the candy quickly in one sitting to decrease the amount of time it is in direct contact with the teeth. Avoid eating any candy slowly over an extended time or over multiple sittings. Recent studies have shown that the length of time spent eating a sweet can be more harmful than the amount of candy consumed. This means hard candies, breath mints, etc. (candy with a long residence time in the mouth), can actually be worse for your teeth than a chocolate bar (candy with a shorter residence time in the mouth).

· Avoid sugary sodas. They are: 1) loaded with sugar (often over 10 teaspoons per 12-ounce serving), 2) are acidic enough to dissolve away tooth enamel, and 3) are often sipped for long periods of time, resulting in teeth that are being bathed with sugar and acid almost continuously throughout the day.

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1 comment:

  1. Kids find it hard to resist eating lots of candies and sweets right after their Trick or Treat adventure. Well, parents shouldn't spoil the fun. Just let them brush properly right after they eat those goodies.



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