October is here, which means you are only a few weeks away from costumed trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell and looking for a piece of candy. Halloween is a fun holiday, but its treats can cause serious damage for your teeth, especially if your sweet tooth rules your dietary habits. Here’s the spooky truth about what you need to know about sugar and your family’s dental health.
A Sweet Welcome
To be fair, Halloween candy itself does not cause cavities or enamel decay. Instead, it is the sugar in the candy that starts the process that can lead to dental health issues. Bacteria love sugar, and when they find sugar in your mouth, they camp out and feast. When bacteria digest sugar, the result is acid that slowly eats away at the protective enamel of your teeth.
Over time, that protective enamel erodes and can’t do its protective job. Instead, a small hole in the tooth occurs, which is a cavity. Without proper care, cavities can become painful and cause a slew of problems.
Bacteria occur naturally in your mouth, and it’s typically nothing to worry about. However, residual sugar is too tempting for bacteria to resist. You can prevent cavities and other enamel decay by committing to good dental habits that will help eliminate sugar in your mouth.
First, brush your teeth at least twice per day, for at least two minutes each time. Use a fluoride toothpaste and consider a vibrating toothbrush for maximum results.
Next, be sure flossing is a part of your daily routine. Flossing eliminates sugar and debris from in between teeth, which is an especially vulnerable place for decay (and an excellent hiding place for bacteria).
Rinse your mouth with water after eating a sweet treat. Drink water consistently throughout the day as well to keep you hydrated and to keep your mouth clean. Stay away from sugary beverages like soda or juice. If you must have a cup of soda or juice, follow up by brushing your teeth or rinsing with plenty of water.
Finally, be sure you are visiting your dentist at least twice per year for your semiannual check-up. During this time, your dentist and hygienist will look for cavities and reinforce any good habits to keep cavities away.
This year, have a great Halloween but skip the candy binge. Your teeth will thank you!