Each year, Americans spend close to $9 billion on candy, and every October a lot of that candy will end up as Halloween treats inside a trick-or-treat bag. You might be surprised to learn, however, that when it comes to causing cavities, it’s not just what you eat but what you do AFTER you eat that may be the culprit.
Cavities and tooth decay are caused by prolonged exposure to sugar. Parents can help their kids fight cavities by decreasing the amount of time sugar comes in contact with their teeth. That means encouraging brushing and flossing, even drinking a glass of water, after candy is consumed.
Why is Sugar Bad for Teeth?
Sugar has long been identified by oral health experts as a major cause of tooth decay and cavities. Naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar in candy and other foods and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes decay.
Sticky or chewy candies usually stick to teeth the longest, and can leave your teeth exposed to acid attacks for longer periods of time. When children chew sticky candies such as caramels or taffy, candy gets stuck on the surface and in between crevices. The longer the sugar is stuck to the teeth, the more time the bacteria have to feed on the candy and produce acid. The more acid that is produced and the longer the amount of time the teeth are exposed to it, the more chance your child has of developing cavities.
Easy Ways to Limit the Effects of Sugary Halloween Treats
Tips for limiting the effects of cavity-causing candy:
- Choose candy that can be eaten quickly and easily to limit the amount of time sugar is in contact with the teeth.
- Steer away from sticky candies like gummy fruit snacks, caramels, taffy, popcorn balls and other candies that expose the teeth to sugar for long periods of time.
- Limit consumption of sour candies that may contain acids (such as citric acid) to intensify the sour flavor. These acids can contribute to dental erosion and cavities.
- Encourage children to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting followed by a glass of water or a thorough tooth brushing.
- Encourage children to eat a good meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to fill up on candy.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
Concerned About Your Child’s Oral Health? Contact Us
Halloween is a great time for parents to think about their children’s teeth, but oral health should be a year-round concern. Regularly encourage good oral health habits with your children, including flossing daily, brushing at least twice a day and visiting our office regularly.
THE SCIENCE OF SMILES® offers affordable cosmetic and laser dentistry and gentle, compassionate general dental care in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures, complete dental reconstruction and TMJ/Headache management. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover affordable up-to-date dentistry and a team who truly cares at THE SCIENCE OF SMILES®.