Whether you favor M&M’s or Skittles, what happens when the sugar rush turns into a toothache?
Here Breno Reboucas, clinical associate professor of general dentistry and pediatric dentistry at Boston University, shares his tricks for choosing the best treats for your teeth, and keeping up with good dental hygiene all year long:
How can you enjoy Halloween goodies while maintaining good dental hygiene?
Everyone should enjoy Halloween! The best time to eat Halloween candy is with meals or right after mealtime. Remember: they are called treats for a reason—snacking on them throughout the day is not recommended and will increase the risk for cavities.
For the sake of cavities, frequency is worse than quantity. Each time we indulge, the sugar combines with the plaque, and an acid is formed. This acid, when repeatedly exposed to the surface of the teeth, over time, is what dissolves the enamel and creates cavities in the teeth.
Make sure you keep brushing your teeth twice a day, use a toothpaste with fluoride—and floss and brush your teeth after the sweets.
Are there any preventative measures people should take to ensure healthy teeth during the spooky season?
Parents play an important role during Halloween. We should screen the candies our children collect, giving preference to the ones that don’t stay in the mouth for too long and are not sticky. Chocolate is a great option! The remaining candies can be shipped to the “Halloween Fairy.”
After the kids are done eating the treats, if you are not near a bathroom, have them swish water around their mouth. This help to remove some sugar from their mouth until they are able brush their teeth.
Any candies that people should pass on this October?
The worst candy for our teeth is the one that stays in our mouth the longest. Hard candies stay in your mouth for a long period of time and sticky candies (i.e. gummy bears, fruit snacks) get lodged on our teeth and are hard to get washed away.
Is sugar-free candy a gimmick? Or, are there some actual benefits when it comes to teeth health?
Sugar-free candies are great. They don’t increase the risk for cavities and they also make us produce more saliva, which cleans and protects our teeth. Sugar-free gums and candies are great Halloween give-aways.
Do you think Halloween is the worst time of the year for your teeth and gums? Or are there other tricky moments to watch out for?
The secret for healthy teeth is to take care of them all year around. If you have good habits (visiting your dentist regularly, brushing twice a day, flossing, and using fluoride toothpaste), Halloween shouldn’t be scary—at least for your teeth.
Which is more important—flossing or brushing?
Both. Flossing is like brushing between our teeth. Since our toothbrush can’t reach in between our teeth, floss will remove the harmful bacteria from the narrow spaces for us—keeping our teeth and gums healthy.
What’s your favorite Halloween treat? What do you hand out to trick-or-treaters at your house?
My favorite Halloween treat is dark chocolate. In my house we hand out sugar-free lollipops, chocolate, and glow-sticks.
Source: Boston University