Halloween is a spectacularly spooky time of year. Whether you’re an adult or a young child, something is bewitching (pun intended) about dressing up and Trick or Treating. However, plenty of family’s question if Halloween will ruin their child’s teeth. We say – It doesn’t have to!
From a dentistry outlook, many parents embellish or resort to scare tactics to deter the sweet candy consumption kids oh-so desire! While treats and sugar aren’t great for our teeth, we luckily have some tips to allow you, and your children, to proverbially have your cake and eat it too!
So without further ado, here are the best ways to maintain a healthy smile and avoid pesky cavities for this Halloween season!
How Sugar Affects Your Teeth
Before we get into the thick of it, it is important to know how sugars affect our teeth. The more you know about tooth decay, the better equipped you will be able to combat adolescent dental caries.
Everyone’s teeth are comprised of three distinct layers.
The innermost layer is called Pulp and contains the soft tissues, blood, and nerves that deliver nutrients to our teeth. The second or middle layer is called Dentin. Yellowish in colour, Dentin is composed of minerals and tiny tube-like structures that lead to the innermost pulp.
The last and third layer is Enamel. The hardest material in our body, enamel protects our teeth from cavities and everyday chewing. While incredibly resilient to scratching and chipping, your enamel is susceptible to acid damage.
But wasn’t sugar supposed to be the bad guy? Yes, it still is!
Refined sugars, natural sugars, and carbohydrate-rich foods first go through a chemical process before becoming a risk to our dental hygiene. Reacting with the plaque and natural bacteria found in our mouths (mainly Streptococcus mutans), sugars and fructose convert into lactic acid and peel away the protective calcium and phosphate barrier that makes up our enamel. This process is known as demineralization.
Using what we learned, sticky treats are particularly devilish when it comes to a healthy smile. This is because stickier candies tend to linger in our mouths longer than bites of chocolate. So even if you are done chewing, hard to reach toffee might be dubiously producing more and more lactic acid.
We suggest to either limit the number of sticky candies eaten or simply avoid them altogether. If neither of these options suits your lifestyle, individuals can look to eat tenacious treats close to dinner.
For about 20 minutes after eating, your body is still producing saliva. This extra saliva can help neutralize acid created from sugars and bacteria.
Brush and Floss Regularly
During Halloween, it is particularly important to watch your children’s brushing habits. Skipping a day or night of brushing can have adverse effects on tooth enamel.
Acid production from sugar doesn’t sleep when you do. Brushing twice a day will limit plaque build-up, while also neutralizing the acidity that might be lingering in our mouths.
Fluoride-containing toothpaste is also recommended, as it remineralizes and reduces the solubility of enamel. Some research has even suggested that fluoride can reduce plaque organism’s ability to convert sugars into acids.
Flossing once a day is especially important, as gummy and sticky candies are the perfect culprit to hide in tough-to-brush crevices.
Believe it or not, sugar-free gum can be a great defence against sugary candies of Halloween.
Through the process of chewing, our bodies will naturally produce saliva to aid our digestion. Containing enzymes that break apart starches, saliva basically rinses our mouth of foods and sugars.
But this isn’t the only benefit. Saliva also contains the phosphate and calcium necessary to strengthen our enamel after eating acidic or sugary foods.
So get a stick of sugar-free gum after some candy. Not only will it be an extra treat, but your teeth will be thanking you as well!
Plan a Visit to Your Dentist
Planning a regular visit to your dentist around Halloween can make sure you and your child’s teeth are in tip-top shape to deal with the harshness of sugar.
Plaque removal, fluoride rinses, and oral hygiene utensils are only some of the benefits your child will receive. Dentists are also great resources for knowledge, skill-building, and possibly a positive ego boost if you’re already a stupendous brusher!
Hopefully, these tips help you and your children’s teeth survive this frightful holiday.
Have a safe and spooky Halloween, Everyone!