It’s no secret that dentists are concerned about certain Halloween traditions, namely that of gorging on candy. Pretty much everyone already knows this trope, and there are plenty of jokes out there that center around it. While yes, dentists generally don’t approve of eating a ton of candy anytime, let alone on Halloween, they certainly don’t hate Halloween in general. After all, who could really hate dressing up in costumes, carving jack o lanterns and putting up spooky decorations! So with this said, Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry presents a dentist’s guide to a fun Halloween.
First thing is first, if you’ve overdue for a checkup, we don’t recommend waiting until after Halloween to come see us. There are several reasons for this. One is checkups are a very important part of a healthy routine. Missing a scheduled checkup can lead to greater plaque and tartar buildup, which can then cause more cavities and tooth decay. Truly the longer you wait, the worse it gets. To learn more about the process, we recommend Fighting Plaque And Tartar Buildup. Yet when it comes to Halloween, overindulging in candy can have other consequences besides just contributing to plaque buildup. If you’re in need of dental work like fillings, eating candy can be especially painful. So if you want to enjoy Halloween responsibly, then you need to have healthy teeth. Come by our office and let us give you the ok on healthy teeth!
While yes it is -very- easy to over-binge on candy, especially if you have a bowl sitting by the door, we really must urge restraint. Sure there are dentists out there who say their patients should eat no candy whatsoever, but how realistic is that, really? We think it’s ok to indulge a little, but try to set a hard and fast limit. For example, allow yourself 3-4 pieces on Halloween night as the trick or treaters come and go. Your goal should certainly be to give away much more candy than you eat this season! Don’t forget to monitor your children’s intake of candy as well. Letting them sit down with a full sack of candy at once is probably a bad idea. Set a limit on the candy they can have, and adhere to that limit for the night. Of course when they eat the candy matters as well. Let’s take a moment to talk about timing.
Timing can be huge when you eat candy, especially during this time of year. There is actually a reason why we recommend eating deserts or candy right after a meal. You see your saliva production jumps up during and directly after when you eat a meal. In this case, you can indulge in a couple pieces of candy right after dinner, and your teeth are better equipped to deal with the extra dose of sugar. Once you’ve had a couple pieces, be sure to rinse your mouth with water to help wash away extra sugar around your teeth. Then you’ll want to wait about 30 minutes and proceed to your normal routine of flossing and brushing before bed.
For some reason many of us feel inclined to sneak a piece or two of candy before bed, but this is actually a bad idea. As we outlined above, the best time to eat sweets is right after a meal. Eating candy late at night can actually be harder on your teeth. Worse yet, eating candy after you’ve already brushed your teeth for the night reverses the good effects of your fluoride toothpaste. The worse thing you can do is go to bed and let the sugar sit on your teeth all night. So for a fun and health Halloween this year, avoid the late night binges!
This last suggestion is one all dentists have to put out there, but seriously it can really go a long way in protecting you and your family from unwanted cavities. There are plenty of treats out there that aren’t composed primarily of sugar, but they still taste good and can fulfill that candy urge we all get this time of year. Chocolate is actually a good option for Halloween as it doesn’t stick to your teeth as bad as gummy candy. Also anything that sits in your mouth for a long time, like a jawbreaker, can be extra harmful and is best avoided. Popcorn can be a good substitute as well, although watch out for unpopped kernels and avoid this treat if you have braces. Nuts and trail mix (especially the kind without candy) can be good alternatives, but try to avoid too much dried fruits as they can stick to your teeth. Finally dairy items like yogurt make a great snack and can actually help strengthen your teeth.
Now is a great time to schedule a checkup if you’re overdue. Chances are this won’t be the only holiday where you are tempted by sweets and other foods that can be hard on your teeth. Contact Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry today to ensure your teeth are healthy and happy for the coming holiday season. Happy Halloween!