Halloween is a time for tricks, scares, thrills, and dares, but it can be a hazardous time of year for your teeth. The human brain loves the taste of sugar because it is full of simple chemical energy that the body can easily absorb, and the teeming populations of tooth decay-causing bacteria that live in your mouth love it for exactly the same reason. If you find yourself having trouble resisting the temptation of overindulging your sweet tooth around Halloween, these tips can help you keep your teeth healthy and your cravings in check.
Understand That Some Candies Are More Sinister Than Others
While sugary foods and beverages of any sort are harsh on your teeth, some types of candies are among the worst offenders. Sticky and chewy candies like taffy, gummies, and caramel can be particularly troublesome because they can get stuck in your teeth and are difficult to remove. This provides harmful bacteria with the edible, sugar-rich shelter they need to multiply rapidly, and since the candy is already stuck right against your tooth, these germs don’t have far to travel before they start causing cavities.
Hard candies are another nefarious nemesis of dental health. Butterscotch disks, fruit-flavored lozenges, and rock candy are all intended to slowly dissolve in the mouth. This allows them to coat the entire oral cavity in a sugary, sticky film that serves as food for the bacterial multitudes. Sour candies are among the worst things for your teeth because they are rich in dietary acids. Acid is horrible for your teeth because it directly dissolves the enamel. This means sour candies basically do the decay-causing germs’ job for them.
Know That There Are Healthier Sweets Out There!
While this might make the Halloween snacking situation seem grim, there is good news! There are sweet snacks readily available at the grocery store that aren’t full of tooth decay-causing added sugars, and once you stop consuming so much of them, you start craving them less and less. Dark chocolate is among the most tooth-friendly candies because it is low in sugar, rich in antioxidants, and can be easily cleaned away from the teeth. Nuts like cashews and pecans have a delightful and naturally sweet flavor.
Perhaps most surprising of all, once you’re used to not consuming so much refined sugar, natural sugars seem sweeter and sweeter. Crisp, crunchy fruits and veggies like apples, carrots, and beets can be a sweet treat when you can taste them properly. The fibrous texture of these healthy snacks also allows them to scrape away plaque and food debris without harming your teeth’s enamel. In fact, apples have a reputation among dentists as “nature’s toothbrush.”
By being aware of your sugar intake, you become more able to control it. Sugar can be a tricky beast to conquer, but once you master it, you’ll be on the path to better oral and overall health.
About the Author
Dr. Michael Michel earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. He is a proud member of the American Dental Association and the Kansas Dental Association. His practices in Topeka and Silver Lake, KS offer general, cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dentistry. For more tips on how to get your sweet tooth under control, contact his office online.