October 9, 2016
We can’t help but associate Halloween with ghosts and witches, jack-o’-lanterns, trick-or-treating, and … candy! Not just candy, but sweets of all kinds, from candy apples to pumpkin pie and even hot apple cider. Our Belleville, IL dentists, Dr. Feder and Dr. Smith, know that this is a tempting time of year for indulging our sweet tooth. And we’re sure you know that too many sweets can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
So, this Halloween, whether your kids will bring back pounds of candy or whether you’re munching on the mini chocolate bars from the Halloween bowl, we have five tips for you to enjoy the holiday without needing an extra trip to the dentist.
Tip #1: Avoid hard and sticky candies.
Sugar is the fuel bacteria need to multiply on your teeth and gums. Over time, lots of bad bacteria in your mouth can cause cavities and gum disease. We all know that candy is laden with sugar. But there’s another problem with hard and sticky candy. Both can lead to bacteria buildup, but hard candy can also damage your teeth. We’ve seen it before at our Belleville, IL dental office, too! One bite the wrong way, and you’ve cracked a tooth. Thankfully, we have treatments for this problem, but why risk it in the first place?
Sticky candy specifically loves to get trapped between your teeth and in the crevices of your molars (back teeth). Even if you brush and floss like you’re supposed to (and chances are, your kids probably won’t do a great job at it), some of that can still sit on and between your teeth and become a Halloween treat for the bacteria in your mouth, too!
Hard and sticky candies also tend to be full of acid. That can damage your tooth enamel and make you even more at risk for decay than just the sugar alone! Avoid these double-whammy treats if at all possible.
Tip #2: Enjoy your candy with meals.
One way to limit your candy intake this Halloween is to eat it with meals only. This applies to your kids, too! You might want to keep their bags and pass out a few pieces of candy for dessert. This can help you keep track of how much they’ve eaten, and it sets a good example for moderation. If your kids know candy is a treat to be enjoyed on occasion only, they will be more likely to have healthier, decay-free teeth.
Tip #3: Maintain a healthy diet.
As we just said, limiting your candy intake can help you stay healthy this Halloween … and the many days after, when all that leftover candy is still sitting around! Make sure you watch more than just your candy intake, though. At parties, at home, at work, and at school, you and your kids will be bombarded with sodas and punch, cookies and chips, pies and cupcakes, and more!
Pick and choose which Halloween treats you’ll treat yourself to, but don’t go overboard. It’s important to stick to a healthy diet. If you host a Halloween party or bring a treat to work or your kid’s school party, you might consider teeth-healthy foods like apple slices, cheese cubes, and a veggie tray instead.
Tip #4: Drink lots of water.
We already mentioned that sugar, especially from sticky candy, loves to adhere to your teeth. It’s important to drink plenty of water to wash the sugar off your teeth. The same is true after eating carb-heavy snacks like chips and popcorn. Saliva also has an antibacterial component that helps protect your tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Tip #5: Brush thoroughly.
You probably saw this one coming! To get all those bacteria-loving sugars and carbs off your teeth, you should brush at least twice a day. If you eat candy during the day, consider brushing afterward, too. Dr. Feder and Dr. Smith recommend brushing for at least two minutes. If you have little ones, keep an eye on them to make sure they brush well.
We also recommend flossing once a day to get between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach.
Scheduling Your Biannual Exam
Even if you follow all this advice to the T, you still need to see us for regular dental cleanings and dental exams twice a year. We’ll get all those hard-to-reach places and help protect your teeth from decay and disease.