Trick or Treat: For Your Teeth
Halloween is fast approaching. That means you and your family may soon be eating more candy than you normally would. As it happens, October is also Dental Hygiene Month. And Halloween candy, which is full of sugar, is not the best thing for your teeth. Sugar can break down your enamel, the coating that protects your teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. You don’t have to avoid sugar completely. But here are four ways to protect your teeth when you’re enjoying sweet treats.
- Choose your candy wisely. When it comes to your teeth, some candy is better than others. Try to avoid candy that you keep in your mouth for a while, like hard candy and lollipops. The longer it’s in your mouth, the longer your teeth are exposed to sugar. And also try to avoid candy that’s especially chewy or sticky, like gummy candies, taffy, and treats made with caramel and nougat. They can stick to your teeth long after you’ve finished eating them. And they can also catch on fillings and crowns and even pull them loose.
- Watch what you drink. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, like soda or sports drinks. These expose your teeth to even more sugar. Opt for water instead. Drinking water can help rinse away any sugary residue that’s stuck to your teeth.
- Chew sugar-free gum. When you’re not chewing on candy corn or chocolate bars, chew on sugar-free gum. When you chew gum, your mouth produces more saliva, which helps rinse away food particles and residue. Saliva can also help counteract the acid that the bacteria in your mouth produce when they break down food. If you’re not sure which sugar-free gum is best, look for brands that have the seal from the American Dental Association, or ADA.
- Clean your teeth well at the end of the day. Brush your teeth when you are done eating for the day. It can help sweep away any big particles of food. Focus especially on your molars, where food tends to get stuck. You’ll also want to floss, so you can make sure to catch any food that might be stuck between your teeth. Flossing can also help remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line. Rinse your mouth well with water, too.
This Halloween, treat your teeth by taking a few simple steps to protect them. You’ll still be able to enjoy your candy, in moderation of course. But these steps can help keep your teeth clean and help reduce tooth decay.