Halloween celebrations can bring tricks and treats for children and adults of all ages; unfortunately, they can also be associated with excess candy consumption that can lead to oral health issues. Sugar that is allowed to linger on teeth mixes with bacteria in the mouth to create an acidic environment. This leads to harmful plaque build up which damages tooth enamel and causes cavities. There is cause for concern; according to the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, approximately 19,000 children under age six undergo day surgery to treat dental decay each year.
Maintaining good dental health doesn’t have to stop when the trick-or-treating starts, however. There are many things you can do to keep a smile on your face before and after the Halloween season.
Nine Ways You Can Consume Candy Without Hurting Your Teeth
Set limits. Decide before trick-or-treating and Halloween events what a reasonable amount of candy to consume will be on the night of and days to follow. Make a plan as a family — and stick to it — so everyone’s on the same page.
Choose wisely. Softer candies don’t damage or stick to enamel the same way hard-shelled and chewy candies can. Treats such as taffy and caramels may stick to teeth longer and cause damage to enamel, fillings, and orthodontic devices, while hard candies like suckers can do the same. You may want to think about removing these types of candy from your stash.
Know your teeth. If you or your children are prone to sensitive teeth or heavy plaque deposits, consider reducing your candy consumption even more than average.
Buddy up. When consuming candy, try to pair it with crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples or carrots, or eat it after a well-balanced meal.
Keep the water coming. Staying hydrated is good for your body and your teeth. Water helps wash away the sugar that may accumulate and damage tooth enamel. Drink a glass of water after eating candy. You can also choose to chew a piece of sugar-free gum; this promotes saliva production which also helps remove sugar from teeth.
Get a check-up. Getting a dental checkup before or after Halloween can help identify and address potential problems. Contact your dentist to make sure your oral health is in good shape.
Avoid idle snacking. Keep candy out of sight and out of mind to avoid snacking on it throughout the day. Think of candy consumption as a reward or treat after a meal.
Beware excess. Buy candy within limits. Excess candy often remains in cupboards well past its expiry, which can lead to further tooth decay if consumption is unchecked when a craving hits. If children are trick-or-treating, send them with small treat bags so they don’t bring home large volumes of candy.
Hygiene for the win. Keep up with good dental hygiene practices. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day using a good quality toothbrush and floss, and use a good oral mouth rinse. For cleaning on the go, consider keeping dental flossers at hand in your bag or backpack.
FAQs on Halloween Dental Care
What is the white stuff that the dentist put on my teeth?
The “paint” that goes on your teeth is fluoride varnish. This is a protective coating to help prevent the loss of enamel and strengthen teeth against decay. It’s applied at the end of dental cleaning and can also work to decrease enamel sensitivity. Adults who visited the dentist as children may remember this kind of application used to involve foam trays with flavoured fluoride solutions!
What happens when you don’t floss after eating candy?
Not flossing after eating candy allows any particles that get caught between your teeth to linger. The longer food particles are left behind, particularly those containing excess sugar, the greater the chance for them to mix with bacteria in your mouth to create acid. Acid breaks down the enamel on and between teeth, leading to cavities. Bacteria can also cause plaque buildup, which can cause inflammation and gum disease.
What does it mean when my hygienist scores my teeth 0–9?
When you’re in the dentist’s chair, you may notice the talk of numbers from 0–9. These numbers are part of screening for gum disease and indicate the depth of the pockets (gum recession) around your teeth in millimeters. The higher the number, the greater the risk of gum disease and the possibility of greater dental intervention to prevent bone or tooth loss.
How long do sealants last?
A sealant is a treatment intended to prevent tooth decay and cavities by protecting the recesses of biting surfaces (essentially blocking food and bacteria from resting in these small crevices). They are applied by “painting” a thin coating on the necessary areas. While adults can get sealants in some cases, children typically receive the most benefit. It’s estimated that with good care sealants can remain on teeth for around 10 years.
What do dentists give out on Halloween?
Many dentists like to participate in Halloween fun, too! They may give out sugar-free options, like xylitol lollipops, or pair a candy treat with a toothbrush as a reminder to maintain good oral hygiene. Like the rest of us, they may choose to give out non-candy items, such as stickers, bubbles, or other small treats.
What can I do to maintain my teeth year-round?
A visit to your dentist doesn’t have to be scary. Call the team at Lewis Estates Dental Centre for a full cleaning and check-up to keep your oral health in tip-top condition throughout the year.