Soooo It's OCTOBER!
We all know what that means. Halloween, pumpkins, costumes, and candy.
Halloween = trick or treating = sugar rush = cavities.
What if I were to tell you that this isn’t entirely true?
Keep reading to find out more about how cavities form. The good news is cavities don’t form overnight, so one night of indulging in Halloween candy won’t cause cavities the next day.
There is a simple recipe for cavities that includes 4 key ingredients:
- Oral Bacteria (sugar bugs)
- Carbohydrates (sugar)
Ingredient 1: Teeth
Without teeth, you cannot get cavities. That’s why people with dentures don’t have the risk of getting cavities.
That doesn’t mean we should all rush to replace our teeth with dentures. Your teeth help you feel when something is in your mouth, they help you chew and speak (Try saying “Fever” without using your teeth). Because teeth have so many functions, it’s important to keep them as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Brush twice a day, and if you can only brush once, nighttime is most important. When our mouths are closed during the night, bacteria are hard at work. Saliva, which helps to wash food off the teeth, is stagnant at night. Brushing at night ensures your child goes to sleep with a clean mouth. And floss daily with the right tools.
I especially love the 123Grin Kids Oral Care Set! These sets include flossers that are made of corn starch, delicious flavored toothpastes that kids love and a set of stickers and charts that gamify the process of good oral hygiene for your kids. They’re biodegradable too so that's a win win for you and Mother earth!
Ingredient 2: Oral bacteria
There is bacteria everywhere we look, and our mouths are no different. Oral bacteria have some whacky sounding names, like Streptococcus Mutans and lactobacilli.
Unfortunately we cannot totally eliminate these bacteria since they’re all around us, but good oral hygiene can reduce the bacteria.
Fun (Or not so fun) fact about bacteria. These can be transmitted from caregiver to child by sharing spoons, kisses on the mouth or when a caregiver attempts to clean a dirty pacifier by licking it.
Ingredient 3: Carbohydrates
The bacteria in our mouths feed on sugar. Sugar is especially high in juices, flavored milks, candy and soda.
Given that Halloween is right round the corner, here is one simple tip to follow: avoid sticky, hard and the really sour (acidic) candies. Examples are Jolly Ranchers, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles and Starbursts. These are sugary and acidic plus they get stuck in between teeth for longer, which gives the bacteria more time to act.
Which means chocolate in moderation is a little better than gummy bears. (You didn’t hear it from me!) Chewing gum and fruit are also better options to hand out to the kiddos on your block, but that might not earn you any brownie points.
Ingredient 4: Time
Cavities take time to form. So enjoying trick or treating candy on Halloween will not directly lead to cavities. But if the same dental habits are repeated week after week and month after month, the chances of getting cavities are higher.
Having a set oral care regimen is not just important during the Holidays but should be second nature to us every day. Good oral health= Good overall health= Happy healthy kiddos!
So this Halloween, you have permission from the @BabyToothDentist to spoil your kids just a little.
About the Author
Dr. Nidhi Kotak, popularly known as the BabyToothDentist is a Pediatric Dental Resident and a Certified Lactation Counselor in Philadelphia. Dr. Kotak has practiced dentistry in 4 countries: U.S.A. U.A.E. Kenya and India and received the Young Outstanding Dentist Award in 2011. She is passionate about spreading awareness about oral hygiene for children and currently works at Temple University Hospital.