There’s a scary thought for you this Halloween. You’ve heard it a million times, candy and sugar are bad for your teeth, they cause your teeth to rot… but is it true? Almost 600 million pounds of candy is purchased every year for Halloween, the average American consuming 3.4 pounds over Halloween for themselves, and their little trick-or-treaters are ingesting about 3 cups of sugar when they get home with their bags of treats. That is A LOT of sugar!
The truth about sugar is not that it rots your teeth itself, but the bacteria that feeds on sugar (streptococcus) breaks down into acids that eat your tooth enamel, which can lead to decay. So, if you want to be strict about it, the less sugar you eat the less streptococcus has to eat and therefore the less acid it will produce to cause decay. But we all know that no one is giving up Halloween candy anytime soon, so what can you do to keep your teeth healthy this Holiday season? Here are a few tips:
Limit the amount of time sugar has with your teeth. Beware of sticky candies or hard candies that aren’t sugar free. Sticky candies like caramels, laffy-taffy, candy corns have a tendency to stick to your teeth and stay there for a long time because they are harder for saliva to wash away. Hard candies, like hard caramels or jolly ranchers also keep sugar swishing around the mouth. The longer sugar is present in the mouth, the more time bacteria has to feed.
Brush and floss your teeth (an oldie, but a goodie)! Wash and rinse away the sugars and bacteria from your mouth after you’re done consuming that snickers.
Be aware of how much you are eating, most of us tend to graze with all that candy lying around. A Butterfinger here, a Baby Ruth there… it all adds up to more sugar and more food for bacteria.
Eat sugar-free candies. Hard sugar-free candies are actually beneficial for your oral health this time of year. These candies stimulate saliva flow, which can help wash away some of the acid in the mouth and prevent dry mouth (which can allow plaque to build faster on teeth).
Drink more water.
See your dentist! Try to make sure you get in for a good cleaning this holiday season to keep your smile looking great in all your photos and to give your teeth a break after all the sugar and treats you are likely to consume!
Just remember, everything in moderation. Have fun, enjoy the season, but remember to be good to your body, your teeth, and your health.