Trick or treating, that classic tradition, rings in the fall season with pumpkins and parties and lots of sweet treats. The downside is that all that sugar can be a horror story for your teeth.
Don’t be scared. Dr. Besede Adeniji at our Kids Dental Center, part of the Greenway Dental Group, can help you and your kids get through Halloween without harming your teeth. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can enjoy all the festivities and splurge on the goodies without fear.
For yearlong dental care, come in and find out why Dr. Adeniji has become one of the most beloved pediatric dentists in Greenbelt, Maryland.
She knows that many kids have anxiety about going to the dentist. That’s why she specializes in pediatric dentistry, so she can focus on helping the next generation develop good dental hygiene habits and feel comfortable in the dentist’s chair. This Halloween, she wants her patients to have a great time and enjoy the day while keeping cavities at bay.
Before you let your kids dive into that bag of goodies, there are a few things you should know about what goes on in their mouths when they eat sweets.
The human mouth is full of bacteria. Some of those bacteria are healthy and help to begin the digestion process by breaking down the food as you chew. But many of those bacteria are unhealthy germs that thrive on the residue leftover in your mouth and turn those sugars into acid. Acid damages the protective enamel layer on your teeth and eventually forms cavities, exposes nerves, and causes tooth decay.
Here’s a list of some treats that your kids (and you) should avoid:
Gummy candies and other chewy, sticky goodies are the worst for your teeth because they get stuck on the surfaces and in between teeth, and they don’t go away until you brush and floss.
The longer those sugars coat your teeth, the higher your risk of damaging your enamel and getting cavities. This goes for those caramel-coated and candied apples, too. Don’t let the fruit fool you; those coatings are horrible for teeth.
Because tooth decay and cavities happen not only because of what’s on your teeth, but by how long it stays there, anything that you keep in your mouth for a long time is potentially a problem. So that lollipop your kids suck on for a half-hour is worse than something they chew and swallow right away.
Hard candy also poses another potential tooth tragedy — chips, cracks, and breaks. If you have a kid who likes to crunch, they may be at risk of breaking their teeth. Never crunch hard candy or ice, especially if your tooth enamel has been weakened or compromised.
Although it’s fun to pucker, sour candies pack a lot of acid, which is the enemy of tooth enamel. Many of them are also gummies coated with extra sugar, so these are a triple threat.
Generally speaking, chocolate is easy (or at least easier) to rinse off your teeth than other types of candy. Unlike caramels and nougats that get stuck, chocolate melts nicely and goes down more completely. That’s not to say that it leaves no residue, just that it leaves less than it’s candy cousins.
If you want to lessen the negative impact even more, go for the dark chocolate. It has less sugar and has a deeper, richer chocolate flavor.
It may be hard to sell your kids on this one, but sugarless candy is the way to go if you really want to minimize tooth decay. You still want to make sure they brush and floss to get rid of food particles, but you won’t be fighting against excess sugar, too.
Look for treats made with xylitol, but read the labels carefully. Often, treats and candies made with sugar substitutes contain other chemicals you don’t want.
Not only do nuts contain protein and fiber that are good for your overall health, but they also tend to break up the sticky parts of a candy bar and break down the biofilm that can form on teeth.
To counteract the candy you consume on Halloween, follow Dr. Adeniji’s simple rules:
At Kids Dental Center, we can partner with you to teach your child good dental habits that will last a lifetime. Call us today for an appointment or request one online. Happy Halloween!