Halloween will be here before we know it bringing with it all the hallowed traditions – pranks, ringing doorbells, giggling children, and treats, of course. Many a parent despairs over the impact of all that candy on their children’s dental health. Dr. Kiran Gill of Natural Smiles in Louisville, Ky is happy to offer these teeth-friendly candy tips for Halloween… and the rest of the year.
It’s The Sugar, But Not Just The Sugar
Almost all dentists agree that sugar-free candy is best for your kids’ teeth. The vast majority of kids, however, don’t agree. It can be thankless battle to try to keep sugared candy away from them at Halloween.
The problem with sugar is its role in promoting tooth decay. Some the bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth combine with saliva to create a thin, sticky film called plaque. Once plaque forms, the bacteria eat the sugar in our foods and beverages and produce acids. Those acids attack tooth enamel, causing cavities and possibly gum irritation.
Plaque is easily removed by thorough brushing and flossing. However, some candies – those that tend to stick to even the tiniest grooves in and between teeth – keep the plaque in close contact with the tooth enamel and gums for extended periods of time. Dealing with plaque is a numbers game – the longer the contact, the greater the damage.
Sticky candies such as gummies, taffy, bubble gum, and caramels can pose a danger to your children’s teeth because it’s hard to remove every trace. Sour candies tend to have higher acid levels that can also break down enamel. Not all candies carry the same risks, though, and here are some tips to tame the “Mouth Monsters” of Halloween.
Candies that don’t stick to the teeth and that dissolve fairly easily are better for teeth. The list includes dark and milk chocolate, believe it or not. Chocolate dissolves fairly easily so it poses less of a risk. Sugar-free gum actually promotes saliva production which helps to wash away sugar and dissolve it. Not only that, but sugar-free gum has xylitol which promotes the growth of “friendly” bacteria.
In recent years, there’s been a trend away from giving out candy for Halloween, and that’s a trend you can use to benefit your children and the neighbors’ kids. Stickers, glow sticks, and other fun items are perfectly fine to give out when trick-or-treaters come calling. Snack-size pretzels and crackers are much easier on the teeth than sticky candies.
Timing Is Everything
You can avoid a lot problems by selecting the time that your children are allowed to feast on their Halloween haul. Reserving candy as a before- or after-dinner treat, for instance, means that less time will pass before they brush their teeth before bed. Clearly, you’ll want to limit the amount they’re allowed to consume.
Speaking of timing, regular dental cleanings and examinations are crucial for ensuring that children’s mouths stay healthy – particularly at this time of year. Schedule an appointment by calling Natural Smiles in Louisville, KY at 502-785-8695 today.