Candy is just one of many types of food and drinks that can cause harm to teeth – and some others are often consumed with far greater regularity than candy.

But why are sugary foods so bad for teeth? Cavities begin to form when certain bacteria in our mouths have the opportunity to feed on sugar that’s left behind on our teeth. This interaction creates acid and can lead to tooth decay.

With that in mind this Halloween, keep these healthy teeth tips top of mind for your family:

Steer clear of sticky and gooey candies…These types of sweets are more difficult to remove from teeth, and the longer they stick around the more likely they will damage teeth. It’s also a good idea to limit lollipops – they take a long time to dissolve, coating the teeth with sugar for more time than something like an M&M would.

Eat candy at mealtimes…Pack some candy in your kid’s lunch! Excess saliva produced when we eat food helps wash the sugar off of our teeth. Following a meal with a glass of water helps with this as well.

Establish a dental home…Find a dentist for your child for regular checkups, and specific advice based on what your child’s teeth need.

Brush twice daily…Parents should start brushing their children’s teeth with a toothbrush as soon as the first tooth comes into their mouth.

Pick a toothpaste with fluoride…Kids age 3 and younger just need a smear on their toothbrush’s color spot in the middle of the bristles. Ages 3-6 should get a pea sized drop on that area.

Even dentists like me let our children eat candy. It’s reasonable, it’s rational, and like everything else it should be done with moderation and with thoughtfulness.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anupama Tate Anupama Tate, DMD, serves as Director of Pediatric Dentistry at Children's National, and is also an assistant professor at The George Washington University. She is a recognized leader in the field of pediatric dentistry.

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Posts from Anupama Tate, DMD