With Halloween falling on a Monday this year, weekend gatherings and All Hallows Eve trick-or-treating mean costumed revelers may have three days’ worth of sweets and goodies to enjoy. That’s a lot of sugar. But there are steps we can take to protect our mouths from candy related damage.
From Honoring the Harvest to Harvesting Hoards of Goodies
The holiday originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.
The American custom of trick-or-treating started in the 1930s. At that time, neighbors would give children homemade cookies, pieces of cake, fruit, nuts, coins, and toys. Sometime around the 1950s, candy manufacturers capitalized on the growing trend by advertising their products as affordable and convenient options for Halloween handouts. Twenty year later, in the 1970s, wrapped, factory-made candy had become the almost exclusive standard for spooky season treats. A key reason for this was safety, because packaged candy seemed more tamper resistant than homemade goodies.
Halloween handouts, however, can become too much of a good thing. Sugar has a direct connection to tooth decay. Bacteria feeds on sugar, which produces acid that interacts with saliva. This combination leads to plaque on teeth, which dissolves enamel, creates decay, and produces cavities. So let’s take a look at some tips for promoting oral health while still having some spooky fun.
Halloween Oral Health Tips
Of course, routine dental checkups and daily oral hygiene habits should always be followed. For instance, brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste twice a day for at least 2 minutes, covering all four quadrants for 30 seconds. The following tips are focused on making trick-or-treating less tricky for our teeth.
- Use moderation. That means encouraging kids to enjoy fun-sized candies instead of the full-sized bars. The smaller portions have just as much flavor with only a fraction of the sugars.
- Drinking water helps rinse away sugar that would otherwise cling to teeth. It also balances out the pH levels in your mouth that sugar makes unbalanced.
- Limit candy consumption throughout the day. Instead of gulping down handfuls of goodies, eat a few pieces with lunch or dinner. It’s also a good way to make that trove of treats last more than a day.
- Avoid sticky or chewy candy. Candies like caramels, and taffy are particularly sticky. They get stuck on your teeth and are difficult to remove even with regular brushing and flossing. Try to avoid these candies, as they can remain on the teeth for prolonged periods of time and cause tooth decay more rapidly. Even worse, they can break teeth and pull out crowns or fillings.
- Steer clear of anything sour. The acid in sour candies is extremely harmful to tooth enamel and causes it to break down quickly.
- Sugar-free gum increases the flow of saliva, which helps wash away acids and bacteria. Gum containing xylitol is especially effective because xylitol actively blocks the production of decay-causing acid on the teeth.
- Hard candy and lollipops dissolve slowly, leaving plenty of time for teeth to get coated in sugar and for bacteria to transform that sugar into acid.
- Clean your teeth soon after eating candy. Floss first and then brush teeth shortly after eating candy to remove the harmful bacteria.
We at the Blende Dental Group are committed to ensuring that our patients receive the utmost care, whether they visit our offices, require home visits, or need special care because of special needs. We treat all patients with all conditions. And we can help keep your mouth healthy and cavity free even after indulging in too many Halloween treats.