Have Happy Teeth This Halloween
Halloween is an amazing opportunity for families to create memories. The television specials, the costumes, the spooky music, the decorations, and that sweet sugary candy are all things kids (and their parents) look forward to. As your dentist, I would be remiss if I skipped out on this opportunity to tell you how to keep your teeth happy this Halloween. To keep your grin from looking like that of a jack-o-lantern, continue reading.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Not all treats are created equal, so to help you figure out which are the best for your teeth, I’ve divided them into three categories:
- The Good – No matter what you eat, all candy should be enjoyed in moderation, but if I were pressed to name a candy that is good for you, I’d suggest dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has less sugar than other candies plus it contains flavanols and polyphenols that benefit your body. It melts as it’s eaten, so it’s not hard on teeth or dental work. It does have more caffeine than other chocolate, however, so you might consider limiting your consumption late at night.
- The Bad – If it’s sticky (like Swedish Fish or gummy candies) or semi-hard (like Now and Laters or Mary Janes), it can damage your teeth. The sticky stuff gets stuck on your teeth where the sugar feeds the bacteria that causes tooth decay. The semi-hard candies can actually chip your teeth and damage dental work such as veneers and crowns. If you do indulge in any of these candies but can’t immediately access a toothbrush and floss, be sure to rinse your mouth out with water to minimize the effects of the sugars.
- The Ugly – Kids LOVE sour candies, but they have the potential to cause the most damage. The sugary outer layer of sour candies is partially made from citric acid; like any other acidic food or drink, citric acid weakens tooth enamel. The gummy layer beneath is sticky (see above), but it doesn’t just stick to your teeth, it sticks to teeth with a compromised protective layer. If your kids (or you) can’t say no to sour treats, make sure they wait a while before brushing to give the enamel time to recover.
May you and your family have a happy Halloween! If you do have a candy-related tooth incident, I am here to help. Contact my office any time to schedule an appointment.