It’s that time of year again, the time when children all over the country will cheerfully eat way more candy than is good for them – or their teeth. Dr. Doug Callow of Callow Family Dentistry in Plymouth, MI has a number of teeth-friendly Halloween tips to keep your child’s teeth healthy this candy season.
It’s A “Sugar Over Time” Thing
You probably know that tooth decay is caused by bacteria that live in our mouths. Some of those bacteria thrive on the sugars in our foods and beverages. That would be okay, pretty much, except for the fact that those bacteria also combine with a thin, sticky film called dental plaque.
Plaque forms on the gumline around the teeth. The bacteria eat sugar and secrete acid that irritates the gums and begins eating away at tooth enamel.
Plaque is soft and easily removed by brushing and flossing. When it’s left undisturbed, the acids have more time to damage teeth and irritated gums.
Sticky candies (Halloween and otherwise) tend to stick in the tiny crevices in the teeth. Let’s face it – young kids aren’t the most thorough brushes, by and large. They probably won’t get rid of all the tiny traces of plaque or the remnants of sticky candies.
The prolonged exposure to decay-causing bacteria and their acids is why Halloween can cause problems for your child’s teeth.
The Worst Offenders
As you’d guess, caramels pretty much lead the pack when it comes to sticky candies. Gummies are right up there, too. You should also help your child avoid sour candies, but for another reason. Sours have a fair amount of acidic content that can also weaken tooth enamel. Combine the acid from bacteria with the acid from sours, and tooth enamel is in for a rough time.
Popcorn balls are sugary-sticky and bits of them tend to get stuck between the teeth. There’s also a risk of teeth encountering popcorn kernel, which usually doesn’t end well. And finally, watch out for hard candies. Sure, if your child just sucks on them until they disappear, that’s not bad. But seriously – when was the last time anyone wound up not biting into a hard candy at some point? There’s a significant risk of tooth breakage. Hard candies have that name for a reason.
Let’s Do Better
Better choices for Halloween candy involve – wait for it – chocolate. No kidding. Chocolate dissolves and washes off the teeth much more readily than sticky candies. It has very little acid content. And hardly anyone holds chocolate in their mouths for long periods of time.
If you’re going to be distributing treats on Halloween, consider non-candy alternatives. Stickers, glow sticks, and other fun, kid-friendly treats are great idea.
Help Is Available
If you ensure that your child limits the amount of Halloween candy, and brushes twice a day and flosses once, Halloween shouldn’t present much of a problem. But kids need dental cleanings and examinations just like adults.
Dr. Doug Callow of Callow Family Dentistry is Plymouth, MI’s well-known family dentist. Schedule a dental cleaning and examination for your child and your whole family. Call our office at 734-404-7336.