Ghosts, witches, and goblins, beware. Too many Halloween treats can wreak havoc on your smile. Learn how to enjoy one of fall’s favorite holidays without damaging your pearly whites.
What Does Candy Do to Teeth?
You’ve probably heard your dentist say that sugar is bad for your teeth. In reality, it isn’t the sugar that causes the damage, but the plaque bacteria that feed on sugar in your saliva. Your mouth is home to many different types of bacteria, some good and some bad. Sugar is food for harmful bacteria that create acid and damage tooth enamel. This leads to small holes in the enamel, called cavities.
Cavities start small, but they can grow quickly. Without proper attention, other dental problems can develop including bone and gum loss, extensive decay, and potentially the need for tooth extraction and dental implants. Prevention and early treatment are key to avoiding major dental problems later. A little candy can do a lot of damage if you’re aren’t careful.
Worst Halloween Treats for Your Teeth
When it comes to tooth damage, all treats are not created equally. Some types of candy are worse for teeth than others. As you choose Halloween candies, focus on less damaging options when you can. Some of the most tooth-damaging candies and Halloween treats include:
- Sticky, Chewy, Gummy Candies- Caramels, taffy, and gummy candies stick to the teeth and between them. This increases the risk of tooth decay because the sugars stick around longer and aren’t as easily washed away by saliva.
- Sour Candies- Sour candies are highly acidic. This acid can break down tooth enamel. Sour treats damage enamel in multiple ways: from the sugar in the treats and from the acids.
If you’re going to eat candy, non-sticky and non-sour treats are less damaging to the teeth.
Minimizing Tooth Enamel Damage While Enjoying Halloween Treats
Sugar causes dental problems, but you can minimize the damage with a few simple strategies. Protect your teeth this Halloween by:
- Drinking Lots of Water- Water can help minimize the effects of sugar on the teeth. Hydrate more if you’re eating lots of sweets. Rinsing the mouth out with water after eating candy can reduce the amount of sugar that remains in the mouth.
- Saving Candy for Mealtimes- Saliva production increases at mealtimes. Eating candy with a meal can reduce damage to the teeth.
- Don’t Snack- Avoid snacking on candy throughout the day.
- Brush After Eating- Brushing your teeth after a treat can remove enamel destroying bacteria from the mouth. If you’re enjoying acidic candies or beverages, wait 30 minutes before brushing since your enamel may be temporarily weakened from the acids.
- Floss- Candy and sugar can get between the teeth, where saliva can’t wash it away. Flossing helps to remove sugar and bacteria from between the teeth. Flossing daily is recommended, and especially if you’re eating candy.
- Visit Your Dentist Regularly- Whether you’re eating candy or not, regular dental visits are always an important part of maintaining good dental health. Your dentist can spot and treat problems early before they develop into a more extensive problem.
Halloween means candy, but it doesn’t have to mean tooth decay. Follow these tips to protect your teeth from damage.