How Halloween Candy Affects Your Children’s Teeth
Trick or treat give me something good to eat!
It’s that time of year again, Halloween is just around the corner. As your children go back and forth about what superhero or princess to be this year one thing is for certain, they want candy! According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $2.6 billion on Halloween candy in 2019. As a parent you want to let your child enjoy the holiday and the stash of candy they will collect. However, you want to make sure a night of ghouls and goblins won’t end up as a tricky dental visit in the following months.
To understand how candy can affect your children's’ teeth, it is important to understand how cavities are formed. Cavities aren’t actually caused by sugar, but sugar creates conditions in the mouth that allow cavities to form. The mouth is full of bacteria, good and bad. Bacteria is important to maintaining an overall healthy mouth. However harmful bacteria feeds off of the sugar we consume and creates acid. Acid erodes the tooth enamel and allows for a bacterial infection within the tooth which creates a hole, otherwise known as a cavity.
Some candies are more harmful to your child’s mouth than others. Be on the special look out for candy that is chewy, sticky, or extremely hard. Chewy and sticky candy, like laffy taffy or sugar daddies, get stuck in between teeth and in the ridges. Saliva has a hard time reaching these areas and can’t properly wash away the candy. Sour candy is highly acidic compared to others, and this acid erodes tooth enamel.
Since you don’t want to take away the candy your child collected by walking blocks and blocks of sidewalks and knocked on countless doors to earn, there are ways to limit the damage caused by their delicious treats.
- Eat candy with or directly after a meal. Saliva production increases when eating a full sized meal compared to just snacking. Saliva not only helps wash away food and candy particles but it helps to neutralize the acid the sugar has created in the mouth.
- Drink plenty of water. Not only is drinking enough water good for your children’s overall health. Water will help rinse the mouth of particles and acid, just as saliva does.
- Brush teeth after a meal or eating candy. However if acidic food or candy was eaten it is best to wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.