Like most parents, you’ll spend the evening ferrying your costumed children from door to door in search of candy. As much as you (and your dentist) would appreciate a sugar-free Halloween, the reality is that you’ll spend the next few days rationing the loot and hoping for the best. Dr. Todd Pizzi, a general dentist in Shrewsbury, MA, offers tips for minimizing the harmful effects of sugar on children’s teeth—not to mention your own.
Choose What They Chew
Your child will come home with a sack of sugar, but not all of it is equally damaging to teeth. As a rule, we discourage offering candies that are especially gooey or sticky, such as caramels and Tootsie Rolls. Their ultra-chewy consistency makes them difficult to remove from teeth. It’s preferable to offer your child candies that will be quickly consumed or will melt before long. The sooner sugar is removed from the teeth, the less damage will be inflicted by acids from bacteria living in the mouth.
It’s OK to Hold Candy Captive
Your child won’t be pleased, but it’s best to dole out only a portion of the bounty, especially if your child scores an especially large haul this year. Believe it or not, most children don’t keep a running tally of each piece of candy. If you have a sweet tooth yourself, it may be best to simply pitch the leftovers—parents can get cavities, too, you know.
A piece of candy here and there might not seem too terribly dangerous, but it can be disastrous for teeth. Each bite of candy fuels the acid-producing action of bacteria. The acids linger within the mouth, weakening tooth enamel and threatening to create a buildup of plaque. Instead, limit your child’s candy consumption to after a meal, be it lunch or dinner. This has two benefits. First, a child whose belly is full of nutritious food will have less room for unhealthy sweets. Eating candy after a meal also reduces the amount of sugar lingering within your child’s mouth.
Encourage Sugar-Free Options
An exception to the no-candy rule is chewing gum or sucking on hard candies that contain the sugar alternative Xylitol. Studies show that this artificial sweetener actually inhibits the proliferation of the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
About Your Shrewsbury Dentist
To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact our Shrewsbury, MA dentist office at (508) 842-8838. We welcome residents of Shrewsbury, Boylston, North and South Grafton, Milford, and the surrounding communities.