Say ‘Boo’ to Cavities
Halloween candy doesn’t have to spell cavities
The way children eat candy could be the key in preventing cavities this Halloween. According to Mark Helpin, acting chairman and associate professor of pediatric dentistry, Temple University, Philadelphia, eating candy in one sitting is better than eating candy throughout the day, which decreases the chance for cavities.
“The frequency of eating candy, and other refined carbohydrates, and their stickiness, are big factors in creating the risk of caries (cavities),” Helpin says. “Parents can let kids eat a bunch [of candy] now and a bunch later. But don’t let them have one piece now, then an hour later let them have another piece.”
Sugars and refined carbohydrates can change the pH balance of the mouth, increasing its acidity. High levels of acid severely affect a tooth’s surface, which creates a perfect environment for cavities.
“If I keep eating candy throughout the day, there is acid in my mouth for a much longer period of time,” Helpin says. “The longer teeth are in an acid environment, the greater the risk they will become decayed.”
It takes 30 to 60 minutes for the mouth’s normal pH balance to be restored after eating candy. Helpin recommends tooth brushing or mouth rinsing with water 3 or 4 times after eating to help reduce acidity in the mouth. He also recommends sugar-free candies and to avoid sticky, gummy candies.
“It’s not realistic to think you can tell your child you can’t have candy, cookies, cakes or other treats,” Helpin says. “Those are the things most people enjoy –and we want our kids to enjoy life.”
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