A dentist's guide to a happy, healthy halloween

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— Never fear, trick-or-treaters: You can enjoy Halloween candy without rotting your teeth.

I know some dentists and dental hygienists who give out toothbrushes at Halloween instead of candy—talk about a trick! They have good intentions, of course, but that’s a guaranteed way to scare off little ghouls and goblins. Never fear, trick-or-treaters: You can enjoy Halloween candy without rotting your teeth.

Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, but with repeated assault from acid, it eventually breaks down.

When we eat carbohydrates (including sweet snacks and drinks), bacteria in our mouths use those sugars to create acid, which can break down tooth enamel and cause cavities. Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, but with repeated assault from acid, it eventually breaks down. This destruction is typically a slow process, which is why early interventions (like fluoride treatments) can help repair enamel before too much damage is done. Other ways to strengthen enamel: chewing gum containing xylitol several times a day or having your dentist apply a cavity-preventing varnish to your teeth—these sealants not only add a protective coating to the chewing surface of the tooth, but can stop the decay process in its early stages.

What about preventing decay in the first place?

But what about preventing decay in the first place? Remember, a tooth’s structure eventually breaks down with repeated acid exposure. In other words, it’s the frequency of sugar consumption you want to be mindful of.What does that mean for trick-or-treaters? If they enjoy their goodies during a finite period of time (ie. not by snacking throughout the day), they’re more likely to maintain healthy teeth. Here’s how it’s done: 

  • Set aside a period of time during the day for treats-no more than 30 minutes. 
  • Eat candy only during that designated period. 
  • When treat time is cover, immediately brush.

Candy isn’t the only cavity culprit.

Not so scary, right? And keep in mind that scheduling sweets is helpful year-round—not just until the trick-or-treat bag is empty. Another important reminder: Candy isn’t the only cavity culprit. Sugar in general (and sucrose specifically) is the offender, which means juices, starchy foods, sports drinks, and more can cause enamel damage. Baby teeth aren’t immune, either, so always check the ingredients in formula and baby foods, and be sure to wipe those little teeth with a soft cloth or very small brush after drinking or eating.

The moral of this ghost story: By following a few guidelines, it’s entirely possible to indulge in those festive, fun-sized treats and still have a happy, healthy Halloween!

Thinking your kids need to brush better after Halloween? Let Willo do the work!

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