Ghoulish Goodies at Halloween!
31 Oct 2014
Halloween has arrived and traditionally this has meant an increase in the amount of sweeets being eaten.
Most people know that 'sugar is bad for their teeth', however the process of tooth decay is not generally well understood.
Briefly, whenever sugar is taken in any form, acids are produced in the mouth by bacteria living in the dental plaque on the surface of the teeth. It only takes a very small amount of sugar to start this action off. Within minutes of a sugar intake, acid is produced in the mouth and this will start to break down the enamel surface of the tooth.
Fortunately the mouth has its own in-built defence mechanism and after about 20 minutes, if no further sugar is taken, the acid begins to neutralise and the tooth surface will be restored to normal by the buffering effect of the saliva. The teeth can withstand three or four of these 'acid attacks' each day without too much damage being done.
The problem arises when sugar containing foods/drinks are taken more often than four times a day! They are then unable to restore the natural balance between attacks and tooth decay is the result.
A simple formula to help remember this is:
PLAQUE + SUGAR + TEETH = TOOTH DECAY
How can we prevent tooth decay?
In very basic terms there are two main actions we can take to prevent tooth decay:
1. Restrict sugar containing foods and drinks to meal times; and
2. Brush teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. This will help by making the tooth enamel more resistant to tooth decay.
3.Tap water and milk are the best drinks for teeth
So, for this Halloween try and avoid hard, sticky and chewy sweets.
Avoid hard sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time.
Avoid sticky sweets like toffee that cling to your teeth - they take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
Maybe try to disctract your children with Halloween games such as 'Snap Apple' or how about making a nice healthy Halloween dinner such as 'Colcannon' - potatoes, curly kale, onions, milk, salt and pepper!
Happy Halloween from the Dental Health Foundation!