In our post we will look more closely at the explanation for why Halloween candy can be so bad for teeth, eliminating some common misconceptions about children’s “baby” teeth, and helping you make the right choice in terms of dental health for your family.
What Triggers Cavities?
Research indicates that at some stage of life over 90% of people suffer from tooth decay. Cavities are a form of progressive tooth decay, of course. But how do they come into being? And what is the main cause of tooth decay?
Did you know that your mouth has some twenty billion bacteria (that is a billion with a b)? Oral bacteria in the form of plaque are fixed to your teeth. These bacteria are actively feeding, developing and reproducing. That’s everything they’re doing! They need to start by finding food in the form of sugar in your mouth to do this.
The more candy they find, the sooner they are able to consume and reproduce. You end up with a hundred billion or more bacteria in your mouth if you do not clean your mouth for 24 hours. And as this cycle continues, they will continue reproducing as long as they have food.
All right, so how can cavities be caused by bacteria? Bacteria generate acid as a by-product when they consume sugar (similar to how humans breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide). While a microscopic bacterium produces very low amounts of acid, billions of bacteria produce ample acid for the healthy exterior layer of your teeth – the enamel – to start eating away.
Your tooth’s enamel (which is stronger than steel, even!) is the toughest material in your body but it’s vulnerable to damages from bacterial acids. Once your tooth is infected, the dentin and the pulp can be infiltrated by bacteria into the inner layers of your tooth. What we usually call “cavities” are damage to the inner layers of the teeth.
You might wonder, “What about acidic foods such as Coca-Cola? Will they do the same harm to the enamel of a tooth?” The answer is, yes! Furthermore, research suggests that genetics may affect the likelihood of cavities. Some people actually have enamel that is softer than others. Although the main culprit causing the cavity is the bacteria, other factors also play a role.
How to Prevent Cavities
• Limit the food supply of bacteria!
Bacteria feed on sugars left behind by the foods we consume, as described earlier. By decreasing the quantity of sugar on your teeth, bacteria are less able to eat. Less food means less acid and cleaner, healthier teeth.
• Remove Sugar, Bacteria and Acid!
You cannot remove all sugars that are present in food since carbohydrates exist in most of the foods we consume. Then what can we do?
We can brush and floss our teeth twice daily to help extract plaque and clean and scrape sugars and acids off the surface of our teeth. Then it is also crucial that we go to the dentist every 6 months – to remove built up tartar and plaque from our teeth!
Are Cavities a Big Deal in Baby Teeth?
That is a very common misunderstanding held by many people. Most people may not consider cavities in baby teeth to be a big deal as baby teeth are replaced with adult teeth. But- it’s a VERY BIG DEAL!
If left unchecked, cavities will develop. If baby teeth develop an abscess or infection, it can affect tooth development and lead to damage of the “adult” permanent teeth below.
Taking care of your child’s “baby” teeth is extremely important!
What’s So Frightening About Halloween Candy?
Halloween candy is not actually worse than any other sweet foods we consume. However, it is the way that we eat Halloween candy that can have an effect on your oral health.
Children sometimes eat Halloween candy late into the night and fall asleep without brushing, providing enough time for bacteria to eat and develop enamel-causing damage.
In addition, on Halloween children get A LOT of candy. This candy may last for days or weeks increasing the daily amount of sugar that their teeth are exposed regularly. All that extra sugar gives those acid-producing, cavity-causing bacteria a steady stream of food.
Donate your candy for a good cause!
Consider saving just a few “Halloween treats” for your kids for special occasions and donating the rest of the your Halloween candy to organizations such as Operation Gratitude that sends sweets to deployed troops and first responders.
And most importantly, don’t forget to brush your teeth!
Article originally published at yournewteethnow.com.