Boo! Halloween is always a spooky season, but you should be more afraid than usual this fall about cavities? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease for children ages 6 to 19. Halloween candy and other sugary fall treats like caramel apples can contribute to tooth decay if preventive measures are not taken. Follow these 5 simple tips from a dentist to enjoy a happy, healthy Halloween.
Most Halloween candies are packed with sugar, but some sweets are more dangerous for your smile than others. To reduce the risk of tooth decay, try to limit your intake of these types of candy:
- Sticky sweets that cling to your teeth and take longer be washed away by saliva
- Hard candies that stay in your mouth – and near your teeth – for a long time
Although chocolate and powdery candies can also contain a lot of sugar, they present less of a tooth decay risk since they dissolve quicker in your mouth.
Be Strategic, Don’t Snack
Grabbing a piece of candy from the Halloween basket is so easy that before you know it, you may have had 5 or 6 pieces over the course of the day! Snacking freely through the day can increase the risk of cavities. Instead, stick to eating your Halloween treats alongside or shortly after a meal. When you eat, saliva production increases and helps clean your mouth by rinsing away bits of food and canceling out harmful acids.
Keep Sugar Off Your Teeth
The longer sugar stays in your mouth, the more harm it can do to your teeth. When eating candy or other sugary foods, be sure to:
- Brush your teeth and floss soon after
- Take sips of water between bites to help wash away excess sugar particles
- Chew sugarless gum after eating candy to stimulate saliva production
Donate Excess Sweets
If your neighbors are extra generous this year (or if your kids’ costumes are just extra impressive!), you may end up with a pile of candy the size of a small mountain. Donating excess Halloween candy can help put a smile on someone else’s face and teach your kids a valuable lesson about giving. Organizations such as Operation Gratitude deliver candy donations to troops overseas, while many dentist offices will trade new toothbrushes for treats as part of candy take-back programs.
Don’t Be Afraid…to Visit Your Dentist
You don’t often see people dressed up in dentist costumes on Halloween, and for good reason – they are not scary! The American Dental Association recommends seeing a dentist every six months for a regular dental exam and cleaning – so do not be afraid to visit your dentist this fall. Catching tooth decay early on during a dental exam can help prevent cavities from forming in your mouth.
You do not have to skip trick-or-treating to avoid the risk of getting cavities. Just follow the 5 simple tips above to enjoy a healthy Halloween!
About the Author
A proud graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Dr. Karl Arakelian helps patients in Haverhill achieve the beautiful smiles of their dreams. By attending a thousand hours of advanced education, he stays up to date on the latest in expert dental knowledge and technology. Patients can contact Dr. Arakelian for more oral health tips by visiting this website or calling the office at 978-373-0901.