It’s that time of year again – a time when children everywhere dress up in terrifying costumes as ghosts, witches, and dentists in order to horde candy from their neighbors. Halloween is fun for everyone – especially the kids that know where the “good houses” are.
As a dentist in Salinas, we talk to a lot of parents who have been told stories about Halloween candy that are not necessarily true. We wanted to take a moment to debunk those myths, so that hopefully you and your child can better enjoy this fun holiday.
Myths and Facts About Halloween Candy: From a Dentist
Myth: Sugar Rots Teeth
The most common myth on Halloween is that eating a lot of sugar-filled candy will rot your child’s teeth or worse – cause the tooth to fall out. It’s not true. Or at least, it’s not “exactly” true.
Sugar consumption in a short time frame has no significant effect on teeth. That is because sugar itself is not what causes tooth decay. The decay is caused by bacteria (plaque) that lives on teeth and in between gums. Sugar is absorbed by these bacteria and becomes acidic, which in turn eats away at the teeth and becomes cavities.
So while sugar DOES damage teeth, it’s not the type of damage that occurs instantly from eating candy in high doses. It’s the type of damage that occurs from consuming sugar regularly over the course of time, and without the proper amount of dental hygiene.
Eating an entire bag of Halloween candy is unlikely to affect the teeth any more than drinking a soda. Both affect your dental health, but not right away. You may get a nasty stomach ache, however.
Myth: Brushing Your Teeth After Takes the Sugar Away
Not all sugar news is good news, however. While large quantities of candy may not cause instant cavities, it does soften enamel. You may actually be hurting your child’s teeth by brushing right after.
Because the enamel is soft, brushing your teeth immediately after consuming candy can wear away at the softened enamel. It is better to rinse your mouth with water and wait to brush after a few hours.
Myth: Dentists are Scary
We’re not. We’re very nice once you get to know us.
Fact: Some Candies Pose Risks to Teeth
Hard candies like jawbreakers and jolly ranchers can potentially chip or damage teeth, so always be careful when your child consumes hard candies and make sure they know not to chew too hard on them.
BONUS MYTH: Baby Teeth Can Get Cavities Since They Fall Out
Finally, it’s important to remind all parents that baby teeth are not just temporary placeholders for adult teeth. Baby teeth can get cavities, decay, and cause severe oral pain that affects your child’s dental health and happiness. Baby teeth can also get bacteria, which studies show can be harmful to swallow. Finally, the more damage a baby tooth experiences, the more the bacteria can travel up to permanent teeth and lead to cavities and pain – before the tooth has sprouted from the gums.
Enjoy Your Candy – Care For Your Child’s Teeth
It’s safe to enjoy Halloween this time of year. While consuming a large amount of candy isn’t ideal for your health, it probably won’t damage your teeth. But it’s still a good idea to make sure that your child (and you, if you’re a candy thief) get their teeth cleaned and checked sometime after Halloween.
The end of the year is around the corner. Use up the last of your dental benefits before they expire by calling Dr. Cureton in Salinas today at (831) 449-8363.