Tips for Healthy Teeth This Halloween from Cook County Health
Halloween may be full of treats, but having to visit the dentist with a cavity wouldn't be so sweet.
Dr. Jorelle Alexander, Cook County Health's Chair of Oral Health, has some "tricks" to make sure a night full of candy doesn't lead to problems the next day.
When you eat sugary foods or sip sugary drinks, plaque bacteria uses that sugar to produce acids that attack the hard surface of your tooth, which is called enamel. These acid attacks can cause cavities.
Dr. Alexander said some candies are worse than others.
"With sticky candy, their high sugar content combined with their sticky nature makes them a nightmare for your teeth," she said. "Hard candies dissolve slowly and saturate your mouth with sugar for a long time, giving bad bacteria plenty of time to produce harmful acid. Hard candies also put your teeth at-risk because in addition to being full of sugar, they can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth."
Dr. Alexander said sour candies can lead to problems, as well.
"Sour candy contains more and different kinds of sugars and acids than other varieties," she said. "This can cause even more damage to your enamel."
Dr. Alexander suggests handing out these healthier options for Halloween:
Water: Cute decorated water bottles are a wonderful treat. Fluoridated water helps to make teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that can cause cavities.
Shelf stable dairy products: Shelf stable products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are low in sugar, contain protein and are full of calcium, which can help strengthen your teeth.
Fresh fruits and veggies: These items are an important part of any balanced diet, and they are good for your teeth.
However, Dr. Alexander knows that realistically, children are going to consume sweets on Halloween, so follow some of these guidelines:
• To minimize the danger of some foods and drinks, try to consume them as a part of a meal rather than on their own. Leave sufficient time for your child's mouth to recover and for saliva to naturally replenish minerals to the teeth.
• Brush after every meal or rinse your mouth with water after a meal or snack. Drink water throughout the day.
• Use a straw when drinking highly acidic beverages to minimize their contact with the teeth.
• If you do consume soft drinks, try to drink alongside a cup of water.
Cook County Health wishes you a Happy Halloween. If you need to make an appointment, call 312-864-0200.