Fall is just around the corner, bringing to mind steaming cups of apple cider, large pumpkin patches, and of course our children’s favorite candy extravaganza: Halloween.
Many parents wonder though, which is better: letting children gorge on candy for a few evenings, or rationing it out over weeks? From a dental standpoint, which is better? Believe it or not, gorging is better than rationing.
There’s no reason to be spooked. Dentists aren’t hoping to make money on the inevitable windfall of rotting teeth. The fact is, slowly snacking on Halloween candy, every few hours, day after day, keeps your teeth bathed in enamel-corroding acid, the byproduct of bacteria feeding on sugar and other carbohydrates in your mouth. This leads to dental caries, or cavities.
For example, as far as oral hygiene goes, it is better to eat seven candy bars at once than to eat one every few hours. In the first scenario, acid will build up in our mouth, but our saliva will naturally neutralize this over the course of an hour or so. And then that acid is gone. In the second scenario, we are constantly exposing our teeth to acid throughout the day, too much for saliva to wash away.
Another reason gorging is better is because it is more likely to be followed by tooth-brushing. People, and especially children, are less likely to brush their teeth after every candy bar, particularly if they aren’t at home.
Candy is not necessarily the worst thing for our teeth, anyway. The factors that really lead to cavities are stickiness and acidity. Potato chips and pretzels, for example, are worse offenders than chocolate, because these cooked carbohydrates cling to our teeth — giving mouth bacteria something to feast on longer and thus generating more acid.
Of course, all this “good news” about candy only applies to oral health. For more detailed information about which candies are best for our teeth (surprisingly some even kill the cavity-producing bacteria) please call our office at (770) 796-7081.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,