Halloween is right around the corner and we all know what that means-lots and lots of candy! Most parents are likely dreading their kids bouncing off the walls from sugar highs, but the effects of all that candy on your children’s teeth should frighten you even more! In this blog post we break down the harm sugar can cause to your child’s teeth and give you helpful tips to combat the damage.
What are the effects of sugar?
Teeth are always under attack by acids working to damage enamel through a process called demineralization. Fortunately, your mouth naturally works to counteract that process through remineralization which replaces minerals and strengthens teeth. Unfortunately, replacing lost minerals does not entirely reverse the effects of eating a lot of sugar. Sugar causes conditions in the mouth that create the perfect environment for cavities to form. Harmful bacteria feeds on sugary substances creating acids that erode tooth enamel.
What kinds of candy cause the most harm?
The most harmful candy to oral health is the chewy or sticky kinds, including gummies, taffy, and caramel. These kinds of candy get caught between teeth and are much harder to wash away. Remnants of them often stay stuck between teeth causing harmful bacteria to thrive. Anything sour also puts you at high risk for tooth decay because of the high levels of acid that break down tooth enamel.
How can I protect my child’s teeth?
Fortunately, there are many easy ways to help counteract the negative effects of sugary substances on teeth. Water can help! Taking a big drink of water and swigging it around in your mouth for 10-15 seconds after eating, especially anything containing sugar, can be an extremely effective habit. Water helps remove some of the remnants of the sugar without damaging the teeth any further like drinking soda does.
Perhaps the most surprising advice we can give is to not brush your teeth directly after consuming sugary candy or acidic beverages and fruits. Obviously the benefits of brushing are huge and well-known, and brushing right after eating some foods can make those benefits even stronger. However, brushing right after acidic sugar is consumed is actually more damaging to enamel than not brushing. Therefore, it is best to wait about 30 minutes before brushing after eating anything containing sugar.
If your kids are going to consume sugar encourage them to do it during or right after a meal. Saliva is a vital component in the remineralization process and saliva production is higher when eating a full meal. We also recommend chewing sugarless gum and consuming fibrous fruits and vegetables to increase salivation. Although they may not always sound as appealing to kids, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products containing calcium and phosphates are much better snack choices than sugary products. Green and black teas (without adding any sugar of course) are also good as they contain substances that help fight harmful oral bacteria.
Book your next appointment today!
As always, the main recommendations to maintain good oral health for you and your kids are to brush and floss daily, and make sure to not miss out on your regularly scheduled visits to the dentist. Contact us today to set up your next appointment or ask any general oral health questions. You can book online by clicking our “Request an Appointment” tab or by calling 405-842-1115. From Smile Studio to you and your family, we wish you a very happy (and healthy) Halloween!