October is the start of fall and holiday season for many of our patients and can be full of fun activities and events. From costume parties, get-togethers, trick-or-treating, and parades, there is tons of fun to be had–but we also want you to be healthy and safe! This month, we want to do our part in helping ensure your child’s smile stays cavity-free with our dental tips!
Cavities and Candy
Do dentists hate candy? Of course not! Studies show that over 76% of dental offices hand out candy every year during October–but we also put a toothbrush and toothpaste in the bag! We know it is an uphill battle to tell children to not eat candy. However, as professionals in oral health, we know that the October sugar rush can quickly impact your child’s oral health.
Is candy really that bad for your health? No, candy can be okay in moderation, but it can easily become a sticky situation! There are good and bad bacteria in your mouth. The bad bacteria love sweets as much as you do and when you eat, they feed on the sugars in your food and turn it into a weak acid. Eating a lot of candy at once increases the amount of acid being made in your mouth. This acid is what attacks and breaks down the protective enamel layer of your teeth, raising your risk of tooth decay. The longer the sugar is in your mouth, the more acid is produced, and the longer your teeth are exposed the higher your chance of cavities!
Cavities that are left untreated can reach deep within the tooth, cause infection, and eventually kill your teeth. This will cause the infected tooth to rot, fall out, and often need to be removed to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria or infection.
You may wonder if dental care is as important if your child only has baby teeth as baby teeth fall out anyway. It is! Primary, or baby teeth, play an important role in your child’s development as they help to ensure proper jaw and speech development. They also serve as place markers for your child’s permanent teeth, so if they fall out early it may affect the placement of their permanent teeth.
Our October Tips
This October, your child may come home with a lot of tempting treats, and here are a few tips to help them have a safe, healthy, and happy fall. Making rules can be difficult, but we encourage you to let your child help in making their candy rules.
Sort Their Candy
If you have a lot of candy on your hands, sort it into two groups. One group should contain all the sticky, chewy, hard, and sour candies. Put everything else in the second group. The sticky, chewy, hard, and sour candies will lead to more acidity in your mouth if you eat a lot of them at once. We recommend giving your child pieces from the second group more than the first.
Candy is safe when eaten in moderation. Set aside a special time for eating candy and limit it to 5-6 small pieces. A good way to eat candy is after a meal, so they aren’t filling up on sugar. Another good idea for candy breaks is to put a few pieces in their lunch or as an after-school snack. Always follow candy time with a glass of water to rinse away excess sugar.
Don’t Forget to Brush
After eating all those sweets, help your child brush their teeth. Remember to brush for at least two minutes with an ADA-approved toothpaste. Help them floss between teeth in hard-to-reach places to make sure there is no candy or food stuck anywhere. This is especially true for bedtime as the harmful sugars left overnight may lead to tooth decay and cavities.
With the holidays approaching, we hope these tips keep your child cavity-free this October. This is also a great time to remind parents and caregivers to schedule your child’s next dental exam and cleaning. For more information on how to stay cavity-free this fall or to schedule an appointment, contact Children’s Dentistry of San Diego today. Happy Fall!