Easter will be hippity-hopping our way soon, bringing with it Easter baskets loaded with lots of sugar filled treats--and the potential for tooth decay! What steps can you take to minimize the risk?
1. Choose Sugar Free Candies Or Gum If Possible
Cavity-causing bacteria enjoy sugar almost as much as our tastebuds do. If you’ve ever seen a toddler revved up on sugar, you can easily imagine bacteria acting the same way in your mouth. Sugar Free treat options don’t activate these cavity-causing bacteria. Another plus to Sugar Free Gum is that it can be chewed after having sugary treats to promote saliva flow and rinse away some of the remaining sugar.
2. Pick Candy That Dissolves Or Is Chewable Rather Than Sticky Candy
The longer your tooth is exposed to sugar, the more likely a cavity will form. Chocolate, which dissolves quickly and is more easily rinsed away by saliva, is a better choice than jelly beans or peeps which will stick to your teeth. Chocolate’s also a better choice than hard candies or lollipops that take a long time to dissolve.
Remember that sticky candies, such as jelly beans, can pull out your fillings or crowns--conditions that will require you to visit your dentist.
3. Eat Candy As Part Of Your Meal Or In One Sitting Instead Of Grazing Or Snacking Throughout Your Day
Each time we put sugar in our mouths, 20 minutes of cavity-causing bacteria activity occur. So if you eat the entire contents of your Easter basket in one sitting, you’ll get 20 (maybe 30) minutes of cavity formation time total.
In contrast, if you eat a handful of jelly beans now, cavity activity will occur for 20 minutes. Eat another handful a bit later, and it’s another 20 minutes. (Already more than what you’d get from eating it all at once!) Come back for a third course--yep, you guessed it, another 20 minutes. You can see how the exposure adds up.
4. Avoid Eating Candy Right Before Bed
At night, we tend to have less saliva to rinse away any sugar left on the teeth. The result is similar to what happens in item 2 above.
5. Brush Your teeth Thoroughly After Eating Candy
Brushing your teeth with a soft or extra soft toothbrush helps remove any sugar that remains on your teeth. Toothpaste helps reverse the acidic oral environment caused by the cavity-causing bacteria interacting with sugars. If you can’t brush, rinse with plain water or chew sugar free gum to help remove some of the left over sugar from your teeth.
6. Substitute Other Items That Aren’t Candy
Instead of filling the basket with candy, consider mixing in some other items that aren’t sugary treats. Some ideas are: stickers, stuffed animals, pocket sized games, coloring books, crayons, comic books, musical or light up toothbrushes, and egg shaped brushing timers.
I hope that these few tips will help you to avoid tooth related problems during the Easter holiday. If you have any Easter Candy related questions, please feel free to call me at my office: 440-960-1940 or contact me through my website at www.drjrobb.com.
NOTE: The contents of this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist who sees both adults and children.
1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W
Lorain, OH 44053