Halloween is coming up soon and now is the time to pre-plan your strategy to protect your and your children’s teeth from the all that candy. Here are some helpful hints.
- Timing. Eat Halloween candy with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals. This helps buffer acids which are produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles. According to Geoffrey Ball, DMD, the past president of the Kentucky Academy of General Dentistry, “the frequency of intake of sugary snacks is more important than the quantity of intake because the more frequent snacks subject your teeth to longer overall exposure to sugar.”
- Avoid non-sweet snacks during the day. When choosing snacks in between meals, your risk of cavities increases. So to avoid this or lessen the risk, it’s better to choose non-candy snacks. But if you can’t avoid the urge, be sure to brush your teeth afterward.
- Choose Candy Carefully. Hard candies stay in your mouth for a long time so it’s best to avoid these unless they’re sugar-free. The length of time that the candy stays in your mouth increases the time the bacteria have to use that sugar for fuel to decay your teeth.
- Avoid Sticky Candies. The stickier the candy (taffy, gummy bears, etc.) the longer it stays in the mouth because it takes saliva a longer time to wash it away. This added time increases the time bacteria get to eat that sugar and decay your teeth.
- Plan ahead. Limit the amount of candy you have around to limit the temptation. Choose the healthier treats to have around over the candies. Choose sugar free over the sugary candies. Mouthhealthy.com suggests that you “have your family pick their favorites and donate the rest,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. “Look for organizations that help you donate candy to troops overseas, like Operation Gratitude, or see if your dentist has a candy take-back program.”
- Drink Water. Water helps he body wash away the sugars. If possible, choose fluoridinated water. According to Dr. Ball, “tap waters are typically preferred to bottled waters because they have fluoride in them.”
- Eat healthy. Choosing to eat healthy does not happen by chance. But once you do, you soon find out the benefits. Among energy maintenance, etc., earning healthily also helps you avoid the sugary snacks and protect your gums and teeth.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Soft drinks, sodas, energy drinks, etc. typically contain loads of sugar or corn syrup. Drinking one of these does the same thing as a candy…it increases the bacteria’s time to fuel up and decay your teeth.
- Chew ADA-approved gums. Chewing sugarless gums for 20 minutes helps lower your risk of tooth decay by increasing the saliva production within your mouth which helps wash away sugars. Dr. Ball recommends gums that contain xylitol and Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty on Mouthhealthy.com advises, “you might even want to think about giving sugarless gum out as a treat instead of candy.”
- Brush Twice a Day. Brushing for 2 minutes twice a day with fluoridinated toothpaste helps get rid of the harmful bacteria and leftover sugars. Toothbrushes like Sonicare, etc. even have timers so that you know when to stop. Remember to replace your toothbrush when it begins to fray or about every 3 months.
- Floss daily. Many folks forget to floss, but flossing is just as important as brushing. It helps reach those nooks and crannies that your toothbrush misses. Flossing helps reduce the buildup of plaque and gum disease.
- Visit an ADA Dentist. You should have regular checkups twice a year.
Reference: 12 Tips for a Healthy Halloween, Mouth healthy.com.