The impact of candy on oral health
With October nearing its end, Halloween is upon us. It’s impossible to talk about this holiday without telling you about Halloween candy and their impact on oral health. The sweet, sometimes sour taste that our favorite candy gives us is an irreplaceable joy. This joy is however not without risks for our teeth. This article will allow you to understand the cavity development process, the impact of sugar on your teeth and some tips to prevent cavities from showing up.
How does a cavity evolve?
First of all, to properly understand the role of sugar in the health of your mouth, it’s important to know how a cavity develops.
- Bacteria located in areas that are harder to clean (under the gums, behind the molars, between the teeth, etc.) will feed on the sugar that’s in your mouth and create an acidic toxin. This acidity will allow bacteria to dig in your teeth’s surface and start the cavity process.
- The bacteria will start by attacking the tooth’s first layer: the enamel. The enamel is the hardest layer of the tooth. This step is not painful and can be stopped if taken care of quickly with adapted hygiene methods and good enamel-building products.
- If the cavity keeps digging in the tooth, it will reach the second layer: dentin. It’s a spongy layer, and it’s softer than the enamel,which is why at this step, the cavity progresses faster. At this stage, the cavity is most likely painful.
- Finally, if no treatment is done, the cavity will progress to the heart of the tooth, that we call the pulp. The pulp represents a direct access to the dental nerves, which is why this stage can be very painful. The bacteria will also be able to attack the surrounding tissue, the supporting bone and the ligaments that are closest to the affected tooth.
What are the impacts of sugar on the teeth?
As you know, sugar contained in Halloween candy, and also in juices, fruits and any sweet-tasting food, promotes cavity development. Indeed, by its sticky nature, sugar allows bacteria to hold on to the enamel for longer, and to accumulate itself more easily. This leads to calculus deposits, and we know those can lead to the development of new cavities.
The other main reason is that bacteria responsible for cavities eat the sugar contained in candy, so that they can get stronger and then multiply.
Moreover, the mouth’s pH level has a big role to play. An acidic (lower) pH is a prime environment for bacteria, who will easily dig into your teeth.
How to prevent it?
While candy is a Halloween joy, it is possible to eat some and take certain precautions to lower the risks of developing cavities.
Here are some tips and tricks on the matter:
- Regularly rinse your mouth with water. This will remove food debris and help restore normal pH levels in your mouth..
- Avoid eating candy over a long period of time. By stretching the period during which we eat candy, we maintain a suitable environment for cavities for longer, allowing bacteria to get stronger and multiply for many hours.
- Chewing a cheese after consuming candy could help restore neutral pH.
- If there’s a step not to be neglected, it’s the hygiene routine, no matter the day. Pay special attention to the brushing technique and to brush for the recommended 3 minutes. You can supervise the brushing for kids 8 years and younger. Also, using floss and mouthwash can be even more important during Halloween.
Dental hygiene tips
Cavities holding no secrets from you anymore, you are now ready to fully enjoy the Halloween festivities and to eat your favorite candy! It’s also a good opportunity for parents to go over good oral health habits with their children. You can follow our team’s tips during your next visit. Clinique Dentaire Champlain is available to answer any questions you may have. Our whole team wishes you a happy Halloween!