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Sep 29, 2010

Healthy Medicine : Watch out! Halloween candy will rot your teeth out!

Tips on Halloween Candy and Avoiding Tooth Decay -By Dr. Margaret Mitchell

When did the tradition begin? Which are the top-selling Halloween candies; which are the most unhealthy? Is it better for your teeth to eat..? This from an article last year on CNN: “although some parents may be tempted to space out the amount of candy their children consume after Halloween, dentists have advice to the contrary: When it comes to teeth, it’s better to eat a whole lot of candy at once than to space out candy consumption over time. Basically, the fewer episodes of candy eating, the better.

Kids love candy and Halloween is a great time to celebrate that love. However, what is a parent to do if they are worried about tooth decay from all this candy consumption? Candy usually contains sugar, which the bacteria that cause tooth decay dine on. So eating a food loaded with carbohydrate or sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Consequently, to avoid negative impacts from candy, we have to do two things: 1) Avoid excessive consumption of these sugary treats and 2) Lessen the amount of time the sugar is present in the mouth.

As the owner of Mitchell Dental Spa, a dental spa facility in Chicago’s Water Tower Place, I’d like to offer the following tips to for protecting your kids teeth at Halloween.

# Avoid sticky candy such as taffy, gummy bears, caramel, etc. Sticky Candy adheres to teeth and causes decay

# Examine your child’s candy to see if it meets your approval.

# It is okay for your child to eat any candy that you approve of, but to help lessen the chance for tooth decay, have them brush as soon as possible (after eating the candy). If a child or adult brushes right after, the impact of the candy on the teeth is minimal.

# Prior to Halloween, visit your dentist to have sealants put into the child’s teeth grooves..

# Kids can eat candy ANYTIME, there is not a good time of day/night to eat candy

If brushing soon after eating is not possible, then try the following:

# Consume the candy with a meal. The increased saliva production while eating will help wash the sweet off the teeth.

# Rinse the mouth with water.

Chew a sugarless gum (especially those containing xylitol) after snacking on candy. The increased saliva from chewing will help wash the sugar off the teeth and xylitol gums help control the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

# Avoid sugary sodas. They are: 1) Loaded with sugar (often over 10 teaspoons per 12 ounce serving), 2) Are acidic enough to dissolve away tooth enamel, and 3) Are often sipped for long periods of time, resulting in teeth that are being bathed with sugar and acid almost continuously throughout the day.

# Eat the candy quickly in one sitting to decrease the amount of time it is contact with the teeth. Avoid eating any candy slowly over an extended time or over multiple sittings. Recent studies have shown that length of time eating a sweet can be more harmful than the amount of sweet consumed. This means hard candies, breath mints, etc. (long residence time in the mouth) can actually be worse for your teeth than a chocolate candy bar (shorter residence time in the mouth)

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