Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween candy hikes risk of cavities, not just from more sugar, but from more frequent eating of it; here are tooth-friendly tips

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Halloween candy can rot your teeth.

At Halloween, the issue is not just sugar, it's how often you eat it. Often, kids bring enough candy home from trick-or-treating to last a lifetime, but then eat the candy in a few days.

Every time we eat or drink something that contains sugar or starches, bacteria in our mouth use the sugar and starch to produce acids. These acids eat away at tooth enamel and cause cavities.

With Halloween candy, the problem is twofold, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Not only do kids increase the amount of sugar consumed, they also increase the frequency at which they eat it. hat increases the exposure of their teeth to sugar, which increases acid exposure, which can cause cavities.

The University of Louisville School of Dentistry has worked for the past decade to inform the students in the Jefferson County Public Schools of the increased risk of cavities during the Halloween season. Over the years, the school's program has provided more than 25,000 students with free education about oral health and general health. This year, the dentistry freshmen continued the tradition and went to more than 70 classrooms and spoke to 3,300 students about the importance of oral health, especially during the Halloween season. The focus of their discussion was to teach the students about candy and the decay process.

The Dental and Craniofacial Research Institute offers these tooth-friendly tips to decrease the chance of tooth decay, especially important during the months after Halloween, when children (and even some adults!) see increases in both volume and frequency of sugar:

  • Limit between-meal snacks.
  • Save candy, cookies, soda and other sugary drinks for special occasions.
  • Limit fruit juice.
  • Don't eat or drink anything with sugar in after bedtime tooth brushing.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste, especially if you have well water or only drink bottled water.
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