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OCTOBER SWEETS SPOOKING YOUR TEETH?

Posted on: October 21st, 2019 by Weimer Family Dentistry

Trick or Treat…for your teeth? Halloween is such a fun time for kids…and grown-ups, too. There are costumes, parties,
haunted houses, school celebrations, trick-or-treating, and CANDY. So…much…candy. Chewy candy, fruity candy, chocolate candy,
candy you recognize from your childhood, new-fangled candy you’ve never seen before, candy that pops in your mouth, candy on a
stick. You know. You’ve seen your kids after a long night of trick-or-treating, sitting on the floor next to their friend, cousin, or
sibling. They’ve got their buckets all dumped out, candy everywhere. They’re trading black licorice for Starbursts, and candy corn
for Air Heads. Meanwhile, the adults are making plans to steal their kid’s Reese’s peanut butter cups, and praying these kids will go
to bed after eating all this junk. They’ve got school tomorrow, for goodness sake!

So, what’s a concerned parent to do? Let the kids eat the candy. Mine do. They love every minute of it, so here are a few
tips to keep those chompers healthy. When choosing candy, you may wonder what the most tooth-friendly choice would be. It’s
best to avoid the fruity, sticky chewy kind (ex. Skittles, Starbursts, fruit snacks, gummies, and raisins). It sticks in the grooves of the
teeth and stays there until you brush it out. And sometimes, it remains even after brushing, especially if it’s a quick, we-are-so-tired-
please-go-to-bed-you-have-school-tomorrow brushing.

The better choice for candy is chocolate (and what’s not to love, really?). The reason for this is simple; chocolate melts. It’s
not going to hang around for hours in the mouth. It will melt and saliva will help wash it away. If you grab dark chocolate, you’re
grabbing antioxidants, too. So double bonus! Another “good” sugar to look for is xylitol. It’s found in many gums and mints, and is a
great choice. But what about chips and cookies and crackers? These white starchy snacks are carbohydrates, and they’re broken
down into sugars that feed the bacteria that cause cavities. When mixed with saliva, these snacks become very sticky and tend to
hang around in the mouth.

The bacteria that cause cavities need two things to thrive: acid and sugar. Anything that’s fruit-flavored is likely either
naturally acidic from the fruit, or artificially flavored with citric acid. This also applies to fruit juices. Even if it’s natural or “organic,”
fruit juice is still acidic and sugary. Most juice drinks have added sugars. If your kid is thirsty after all the trick-or-treating, encourage
him or her to grab water! Just plain water. Avoid adding lemon or watering down juice…it’s still acidic and sugary.

So, the night is over, all candy has been ingested for now. I know you’re tired and your feet hurt, and the kids are all
hopped up on sugar, but don’t skip brushing and flossing. The mouth gets very dry at night, and anything that stays on the teeth at
night has a greater chance of causing tooth decay. Two minutes of brushing is all it takes. Brush in little circles with a soft
toothbrush. Floss any spaces you can’t SEE through. The toothbrush bristles cannot fit in there. If you can see through the space,
the toothbrush will get it. Skip that spot… you’re tired. If your child is old enough to spit, have them rinse with an alcohol-free
mouthwash. And tuck them in. Turn out the lights and retreat. Go steal their peanut butter cups and their Kit Kats. You deserve it.

One final important tip… Let them enjoy these treats for 2-3 days, and then be done with it. Whether you eat it all at once,
or donate it, get rid of it! It is more harmful to your teeth to eat the same amount of candy over 6 months than eating it over the
span of 2-3 days. This way you are not constantly reintroducing the environment that cavity-causing bacteria love.
If you’re looking to donate your leftover candy, you can drop it off at Weimer Family Dentistry from November 1-
November 6, 9am -4 pm. We will be collecting candy and donating it to OPERATION GRATITUDE, an organization that sends these
treats to our troops, veterans and first responders.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Dr. Leigh Flattmann

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Mandeville LA 70471
(985) 727-1800
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