Trick or Treat! Hallow’s Eve is almost here, by far the “sweetest” holiday of the year for obvious reasons. While trick-or-treating traces its history back to several sources including the Celtic custom Samhain, or the European practice of going door to door asking for cakes in return for prayers for souls on All Souls’ Day, some things have remained the same all through these centuries: the door-to-door visits and a bagful of sweet stuff.
With that being the case, you and the kids in your household may have more than your teeth can take. These sugar-laded treats may just be little devils in disguise – talk about trick-or-treating.
The bacteria in our mouths interact with sugars in that they turn it into lactic acid; logically, a lot of sugar means a lot of acid later on. Acid wears away the tooth enamel (which is the outermost layer of the tooth), allowing for the acids to attack deeper layers. This is what causes tooth decay.
Among the most loved types of candies these days are the sour ones – just like those squiggly little colored worms rolled in sugar and bursting with fruit flavors. But, according to the Minnesota Dental Association, these are among the most dangerous for the teeth because not only are they high in sugar, but they are also more acidic than other candies; in fact, so acidic that an acid attack can last only about 20 minutes.
To alleviate the effect of these little devils on the teeth, consider the following after eating sweets:
- Neutralize the acids by swishing your mouth with water, drinking milk or consuming cheese. Do this right after eating candies, but wait at least thirty minutes to an hour before you brush your teeth because brushing your teeth immediately after consuming candies (or eating anything, in general) speeds up the effect of acid on the enamel.
- Avoid sucking or chewing sweet stuff for extended periods. This exposes your teeth to a higher risk of tooth decay.
- When drinking sweet drinks, best to drink from a straw to lessen exposure of teeth to acid.
- If you’re using dental bands, retainers, and others, be mindful of how much you consume and the way you consume them, because these candies could potentially render your intraoral appliances ineffective.