How to keep smiles healthy through Halloween

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jane C. Knight
  • 52nd Dental Squadron
As Halloween draws near, your child's head is most likely swirling with thoughts of ghostly ghouls, creepy costumes and gigantic treat bags.

The potential risk for candy-coated cavities is likely the last thing on their minds.

Cavities can be just as scary and real.

Cavities occur because of repeated attacks from acid on tooth enamel. Cavity-causing bacteria use sugars, found in the foods and drinks we consume. The by-product of this energy is a harmful acid, which destroys tooth enamel. In other words, once we ingest sugar, the environment in our mouth changes immediately and goes through an acid attack that causes cavity formation. This acid attack can last for approximately 20 minutes. Continuous eating or drinking sustains this environment causing teeth to remain susceptible to decay for an indefinite period of time.

It is better to quickly drink a soda than sip it throughout the day; otherwise, you are continually bathing your teeth in sugar and acid. In addition, while foods like raisins, crackers and low-fat chips are not necessarily bad for your body, they do tend to stick in the grooves of your teeth for longer periods of time, causing a similar result.

To keep a healthy smile and reduce the risk of cavities, teeth should be brushed at least twice daily for no less than two minutes at a time. Flossing should be done at least once a day. Children younger than 8 years old may not have the dexterity to brush or floss effectively, and therefore, require some assistance.

Follow these tips to have a safe and cavity-free Halloween this year. Your children can still enjoy their bounty of goodies, just keep in mind good oral hygiene practices in your home can keep a sweet tooth from going sour.