5 Tips for Dealing with Candy at Halloween and All Year Long
Candy corn is Halloween's best-selling treat. But parents shouldn't necessarily cringe when their children plunge into bags of those white-tipped, yellow and orange sugar concoctions. Nor should parents worry if they decide to dip into the kids' goodie bags.
"Cavities happen and develop over time. Halloween is not to blame,'' said Judith Messura, DMD, a dentist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "It's lack of good daily oral hygiene and chronic poor dietary choices that lead to dental cavities."
There are, of course, some good habits that people should adhere to when brushing or helping their children learn to care properly for their teeth and gums, Messura said.
The American Dental Association's brushing recommendation of two times a day for two minutes at a time is important, she said, as is the idea of rinsing your mouth out with water after eating if you won't be brushing for a while. That's because food is broken down to sugars that, in turn, mix with bacteria in your mouth to produce acids that can lead to cavities and gum disease.
Messura offers some ideas about foods and oral care for Halloween and throughout the year:
- Be aware that "sticky'' foods such as raisins, gummies, caramel and candy corn are more prone to getting into the "pits and fissures'' of teeth compared to, for example, plain chocolate bars.
- Foods such as string cheese and sugarless gum can increase saliva and help rinse away or neutralize acids in the mouth.
- Eating extra treats should be limited, if possible, to once a day. And though everyone wants a treat to last, candy should not be lingered over too long. Eating sweets more quickly keeps the time that teeth are exposed to sugars and acids to a minimum.
- When it comes to meeting the twice-a-day-for-two-minutes brushing rule, use a timer. (People don't brush for nearly as long as they think they do.)
- Brushing should not be done too aggressively, and should be done with a soft- or medium-bristle brush. Tooth structure can be lost over time and can only be replaced with dental restorations, so be kind to your teeth.
"As long as you're doing a good job rinsing and brushing," Messura said, "it's OK if you have extra sweets for Halloween or any holiday.''