Trick-or-treat…it’s that time of year again! Halloween is one of the most beloved holidays (by children and adults alike) – and it’s also the beginning of the holiday season. Kids look forward to getting big bags of candy for months, and even adults find that there are endless sweet treats in the breakroom at work. But amidst all the Halloween fun, here’s one sobering statistic to consider: an estimated 27% of American adults have undiagnosed cavities – and eating candy certainly doesn’t help. But the good news is that there are 7 strategies everyone in the family can use to enjoy their “Halloween haul,” without needing major work from a dentist. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Timing Matters
It’s much better for your teeth to eat candy after a meal instead of snacking on it throughout the day. When it comes to getting cavities, it’s not only the amount of sugar exposure, but also the frequency that counts.
In fact, it’s helpful to remember the following saying: “Sip all day, get decay.” This will remind you (whether sipping or chewing) to consume sweet foods and beverages in one sitting rather than grazing throughout the day.
2. Do Extra Well With Brushing and Flossing
It goes without saying that brushing and flossing are always important for a healthy smile, but your hygiene habits are extra-important during Halloween (or any holiday) when there’s extra candies, desserts and other sweet treats around!
3. Make Water Your Beverage of Choice
For both children and adults, it’s helpful to drink water throughout the day, and especially after eating anything sweet. It not only helps you stay hydrated, but also washes away plaque, bacteria, and sugars that contribute to cavities.
4. Choose the Right Candy
The longer that sugar remains in the mouth, the more harmful it is. That’s why it’s a good idea to minimize or avoid the following kinds of candy as much as possible:
- Hard candies that take time to dissolve
- Sticky candies like toffee, gummies, or caramel
- Sugary gum
5. Avoid Sweet Beverages
To maintain balance in your diet at this time of year, it’s a good idea to avoid beverages like soda, juice or sweetened coffee when you’re consuming more candy and desserts.
6. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
When you don’t have time to brush or floss after having something sweet, chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to reduce the risk of cavities.
The extra salivary flow will wash away food debris and plaque, and also neutralize the acids that cause tooth decay.
7. Schedule a Checkup
Regular checkups with a dentist are always important, but especially at this time of year. Everyone in the family can get a professional cleaning and fluoride treatment to strengthen their teeth and prevent cavities. Checkups are also a chance to make sure that any cavities are detected as early as possible, when they’re small and easy to fix.
With these 7 tips for keeping your smile healthy, you can make sure Halloween is scary for all the right reasons this year!
About the Author
As a general dentist and mother of two, Dr. Suzan Rismani-Flenniken knows how much her family enjoys Halloween and the holiday season. By focusing on prevention first and treatment second, she’s also able to help her patients enjoy this time of year – without developing cavities. If you have any questions about good oral health at Halloween, she can be reached via her website or at (703) 714-7374.