Tricky Treats to Avoid and Good Oral Health Habits to Prevent Plaque
As the Halloween candy is being devoured, sugar and dental plaque can linger in the crevices in and between your child’s teeth and cause cavities. Monitoring your child’s sugar intake and ensuring regular brushing habits to remove plaque will help prevent tooth decay this Halloween and make your child’s next visit to the dentist cavity-free.
Sugar has long been identified by oral health experts as a major cause of tooth decay and cavities. If not removed by brushing or some other means, naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth form a colorless, sticky film called plaque. Cavity-causing microorganisms within plaque feed on sugar and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.
Guidelines for Your Trick or Treaters
Here are a few guidelines to safeguard your little pirate’s teeth against decay this Halloween:
Don’t buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.
When buying candy for Halloween, look for treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars.
Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.
Encourage your child to eat a small amount in one sitting followed by a glass of water and thorough tooth brushing. It is not a good idea to allow your child to graze on candy from after school until dinner time as this will increase the amount of time sugar comes in contact with teeth.
Promote good oral health care habits year-round to your children by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and getting regular dental checkups.
Beware of Hard or Sticky Candy
One of the worst types of candy in terms of your child’s oral health is hard or sticky candies like sugared fruit snacks, caramels, popcorn balls or lollipops. They are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down. Plus, they can crack or chip a child’s tooth.
On the other hand, sweets like chocolate that quickly dissolve in the mouth and can be eaten easily lessen the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth
To help parents at Halloween, we offer a list of the most harmful to the safest treats your kids should be choosing from their trick-or-treat bag:
Sour Power – Sour candies are the absolute worst in that studies have revealed that the acids in sour candies are so destructive because they dissolve enamel on contact!
Hardly Harmless – Hard candy needs to be sucked on for an extended period of time and very chewy candies are harmful in that they get stuck between the teeth. Both hard and chewy candy allow bacteria to wreak havoc on your child’s teeth for a much longer period of time.
Resist Raisins – Don’t be fooled by their natural derivative. Raisins easily damage dental work because they are very sticky and do not mix well with fillings, braces or retainers.
Candy Bars Get Four Stars – While we can’t say candy bars are good for your oral health, they are less harmful because they are eaten quickly allowing less time for the sugar to damage with acid.
Dissolve Your Worry – Powder candy is fairly safe as the sugar dissolves quickly and makes little contact with the teeth.
Eat Two or Three if They’re Sugar Free – As obvious as it seems, sugar-free candy is the most highly recommended Halloween treat for your children’s teeth. You can even prevent cavities by chewing sugar free gum! Sugar free gum promotes increased saliva which neutralizes harmful bacteria.