It’s that time of year again where “stranger danger” goes out the window and accepting candy from strangers all over the city is considered perfectly normal. Ask any kid what their favourite part of Halloween is and you’re guaranteed to get one obvious response. While all that candy is fine and dandy for your child’s sweet tooth, it’s their other teeth that we want to draw your attention to today.
Most of us have been told since we were very young that eating too much candy will rot your teeth. Although this is quite true, we mostly take it for granted that the candy just somehow causes tooth decay, and we don’t often think too much about what exactly is going on. First thing to understand is that the human mouth is packed with bacteria. Most of these tiny organisms are harmless, and some are even required in maintaining a healthy oral ecosystem. Unfortunately, sugar acts as a food source for the “bad” bacteria, allowing them to grow in numbers and squash out the “good” bacteria. This is bad news as it upsets the delicate power struggle that goes on inside your mouth.
The mouth is a hazardous environment for teeth. All that incoming acid from food can wear down enamel quickly. However, your body has many ways of protecting and repairing your teeth from damage. Saliva is an important element here, as it contains enzymes and electrolytes that can deactivate bad bacteria and restore mineral balance within teeth. Fluoride is another important component that can help repair enamel, which is why we tend to see tooth decay increase when fluoride is taken out of water.
The obvious answer is to cut down on the amount of sugar that is going into your kids’ mouths. However, while this is feasible advice for most of the year, it doesn’t really apply on Halloween. Instead, look for other ways to help speed along your child’s tooth recovery. Encourage more frequent brushing after consuming lots of candy. Eating cheese and other dairy products can also help, as they’re full of calcium and other minerals that can strengthen teeth. Look for candies that can be chewed and swallowed quickly in order to minimize the amount of time that teeth are exposed to sugar.
We’re not saying to opt out of Halloween just because of tooth concerns. The main point to take away is to just be aware of the effects of sugar on teeth, and set responsible examples and choices for your kids accordingly. Feel free to call us at (587) 317-7959 if you have any more questions. Happy trick or treating!