Halloween is coming up and after that, there’s the holiday season. The next few months will see our children faced with a barrage of sugary treats and candy. In particular, what is the best way to handle the basket of candy hauled in on October 31st?
When we eat candy, the sugar combines with the bacteria in the plaque existing on our teeth and gums. This combination produces a mild acid that starts the tooth decay process. The longer and more often the teeth are exposed to the sugars in candy, the more damage can occur.
So, here’s our Users Guide to Candy Eating:
1. Children should not eat anything before they get home. Make sure to check all the treats collected, for safety and also for potential allergic ingredients.
2. Set a treat time. For reasons outlined above, it is better to eat a little more candy at one time than snack on candy multiple times a day. The teeth are exposed to sugar less frequently.
3. A good treat time is with meals or shortly after. The saliva in the mouth increases at meal time and helps lessen the effect of the acid produced by the sugar and bacteria in the mouth.
4. Drink more water with treats as it will flush the mouth of sugars and acids and also help remove food particles.
5. Avoid hard candy. Hard candies take longer to eat so the sugars and the cavity causing acid are present in the mouth for a much longer time.
6. Avoid chewy or gummy candy. These treat are usually higher in sugar and stick to the teeth much longer. They also tend to be more difficult for the saliva to breakdown.
7. Brush, floss and rinse after treat time.
8. Finally, if that candy haul is lasting way too long; try a candy-swap. Exchange your children’s candy for something else they like, such as stickers or passes to an amusement park.
Halloween and the holidays that follow should be fun events for kids, so deprivation of treats is not the answer. Candy and sweets can be enjoyed while limiting their impact on our children’s teeth and oral health.