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Can I eat Halloween candy and keep my teeth Healthy?

Published Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by Dr. Lefevre

Yes you can!  Halloween is here.  Most children and adults scour neighborhoods for free candy, stockpiling sugary treats for the next month. It is the most candy filled event in the United States. It is not a surprise Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health challenges.

Here are 10 ways you can help your mouth remain healthy during Halloween.

·         Eat Halloween candy with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps rinse away food particles.

·         Avoid hard candy. The length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for cavities.

·         Avoid sticky candies that cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for cavities.

·         Drink more water. Drinking water can help prevent tooth decay by washing away the sugar on your teeth.  After eating hard or sticky candies, use water to rinse your mouth of sugar.

·         Maintain a healthy diet. Your body is a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you "fill up" affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.  Eat plenty of leafy greens, fruits, and proteins.   Use the sugary Halloween treats sparingly at the end of the meal.

·         Avoid beverages with added sugar such as soda, sports drinks, sweet tea or flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.  Drink water after a consuming a sugary beverage.

·         Chew gum that has the ADA Seal. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria. 

·         Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth. 

·         Clean between teeth daily with floss. Cavity causing bacteria and sugar get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

Visit your dentist. Regular visits to your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch early cavities.  Treating cavities early lends to a more predictable and favorable outcome.  If you wait to see your dentist when your tooth hurts, then the cavity has progressed to a stage where a root canal or crown may be required to treat the tooth.  A SWEET tooth is a sign of a cavity, don’t ignore it.

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