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Monday, September 30, 2013

Halloween: Sweet Treats can be Tricky for Teeth

Halloween is one of everyone’s favorite holidays, especially children, but with the fun, treats, and costumes come some perils for your teeth.

Harmful bacteria thrive when exposed to sugar, increasing the speed and prevalence of tooth decay, and dental visits often increase the week following Halloween due to aggravated toothaches and cavities.

153640648 Did you know that the worst candies for your dental health are sour candies, especially sour gummies? Sour candies contain high acid levels that erode enamel at a faster rate than regular sugary treats. Gummy candies and other chewy snacks like caramels stick to the teeth for longer, increasing the exposure period and risk of bacterial growth. Choose sugar-free versions for a safer indulgence. Those who wear braces face even more dangers during Halloween since gum, hard candies, candy apples, and popcorn can stick to or break the delicate hardware in your mouth, so try for softer chocolates if you wear braces or a retainer.

On the plus side, parents can use Halloween as a time to encourage healthy brushing and eating habits. It is essential that children and parents alike brush after meals or after enjoying Halloween candy. If you are busy and on the go, carrying travel-size mouthwash and floss is a great way to clean your mouth of debris after snacking. Eating candy at mealtimes (instead of throughout the day) also helps limit sugar exposure to teeth, as saliva production increases while eating a larger meal and will help wash away any sugar. Parents can also mix Halloween candy with healthier snacks like peanuts or fruit. Frozen grapes are a fun bite-sized alternative to processed, sugary candy!

We’ve even heard it recommended that parents to allow their children to eat the bulk of their Halloween candy at once in order to limit sugar exposure to a few sittings instead of slowly over a longer period of time. We won’t recommend gorging from a nutritional standpoint, but it is an interesting reminder that the shorter the exposure of sugar to the teeth, the better!