By Dr. Shakila Angadi
Eating Dark Chocolate may be your best bet this holiday season.
With Halloween kicking off the last half of the year, the temptation to eat unhealthy becomes harder to resist. With the number one treat driven holiday around the corner, we wanted to share some ideas on keeping your teeth healthy.
First off- Why do candy and sweets wreak havoc on teeth? The main reason is the sugar/ fermentable carbohydrates. The bacteria in your mouth consume the sugar as energy at low pH levels and use it multiply.
What does that mean in plain english?
Sugar acts as fuel for cavity bugs to multiply and grow in your mouth and on your teeth. This can cause tooth decay, pain and sticky film coating called plaque. So those “harmless” treats can give you more than what you bargained for!
So, by reducing the effects of this sugar eating bacteria, you can keep your mouth clean and cavity free!
Here are my top tips for keeping those pearly whites safe:
Eat candies that dissolve easily and limit the time it is exposed to your enamel. Sticky candies have a tougher time breaking down in saliva and can leave more debris in the mouth, which means that cavity forming bacteria can get to it longer.
Choose chocolate (instead of hard candy) that can break down easily in the mouth with saliva to reduce the exposure time. Hard candy can also break weak enamel if chewed on.
Dark chocolate can be the best treat in moderation, and there is preliminary research to suggest that it is better than other candies.
Avoid acidic drinks with treats. Acid also causes this noxious bacteria to multiply and become more active.
Sugarless gum is a better alternative when possible.
Timing is everything! Eat that treat at the end of a meal when your saliva is at its highest production. This helps wash away the effects of the sugar.
Set reasonable limits to help everyone to enjoy their treats safely.
Drink water, and lots of it. Water can dilute the effects of the sugar and avoids the “stickiness” on harder to clean areas.
Brush and floss. Keep a toothbrush handy everywhere you go so you are prepared to keep those teeth clean, especially after that moment of candy weakness.
Emphasize to kids ( and yourself!) that candy is a treat. As much as my little one doesn't seem to like that thought, it should be consumed as such to avoid forming harmful dietary habits.