What scares you the most on Halloween? Vampires and witches and werewolves might come to mind, but in reality, the spookiest part about trick-or-treating is all that candy—and the cavities it can cause.
Sugary snacks are your teeth’s worst enemies, yet on October 31, countless kids, teens, and even adults will indulge in heaps of the sweet stuff. Here’s a look at which candy is the worst for your teeth, some friendlier alternatives, and tips to keep your smile healthy on Halloween and beyond.
Halloween Candy Most Likely to Cause Cavities
- Sticky or gummy candy: The delightfully chewy quality of these sweets is also their downfall. Traces of candy can lodge themselves between your teeth and on the biting surface of your molars. The longer that sugar sticks to your teeth, the higher your cavity risk becomes.
- Hard candy: If you suck on hard candy, it doesn’t come in direct contact with your teeth, but the sugar mixes with your saliva and lingers in your mouth, sometimes for five minutes or longer. If you pop in piece after piece, sugar attacks your teeth constantly, and your saliva can’t do its job of washing away debris and cleaning out your mouth.
- Sour candy: As if the sugar in gummy or hard candy wasn’t enough, candy companies also sell sour candy. Citric acid weakens the outer layer of your teeth, known as enamel, increasing the risk of decay. It’s a double blow your teeth don’t need.
More Tooth-Friendly Candy Options
- Dark chocolate: Chocolate doesn’t stick to your teeth or linger in your mouth the way other candies do. Dark chocolate also has less sugar than white or milk chocolate, along with surprisingly high antioxidant and mineral content to promote good health when enjoyed in moderation.
- Sugar-free gum: Chewing on gum can feel similar to eating candy, but as long as it’s sugar-free, it has almost no calories and increases saliva flow to reduce plaque buildup and tooth decay.
- Candy sweetened with xylitol: Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that tastes sweet without increasing cavity risk. In fact, xylitol reduces tooth decay and can even reverse cavities in their early stages. You can find xylitol-sweetened candy in many forms, including suckers, gummies, and chewing gum.
Good Oral Habits for a Healthy Smile
If a mouthful of cavities is more frightening to you than ghosts and ghouls, protect yourself by following these tips—not just on Halloween, but all year-round:
- Brush your teeth morning and night.
- Floss once a day.
- Rinse your mouth with water after raiding your Halloween candy stash. Better yet, brush your teeth as soon as possible.
- Visit the dentist every six months for professional teeth cleaning.
- Consider preventative measures such as dental sealants, mouthguards, and fluoride treatments.
For more tips to maintain a healthy smile, or to schedule your next appointment, please contact our dentist in Hazlet at (732) 264-4477.
As a holiday based almost entirely on getting and eating as much candy as possible, Halloween may seem destined to cause more than a few cavities across the country this year. Thankfully, with a few simple tips, you can minimize the sugar overload without taking the fun out of trick-or-treating.
Devise a Candy Plan
The best way to make sure you and your kids have the same expectations regarding Halloween candy is to talk about it before the holiday arrives. You have a few options for restricting the amount of candy your children ingest:
- Limit the number of houses you visit.
- Give your children a smaller bucket or bag to take trick-or-treating.
- Parcel out the candy slowly over the year, such as by allowing a piece or two for dessert each day.
Whatever methods you choose, include your children in the conversation. Explain that you’re not limiting their candy intake to be mean—you want to help them make a healthy choice for their teeth and body.
Consider a Candy Swap
If you don’t feel comfortable allowing your child to have a bucket of candy, even if you spread out its consumption, consider another option called a candy swap. This is when you trade the candy your child earned from trick-or-treating with a sugar-free reward.
You might do this all at once by replacing the whole pile of candy with a toy your child has wanted for a while. You can also do it piecemeal, offering small rewards such as stickers, colored pencils, or anything else you think your child would enjoy in exchange for individual pieces of candy.
Hand Out Sugarless Treats
If you don’t want a mountain of candy in your own home, don’t give it out to the neighborhood kids. You have plenty of sugar-free options to offer the vampires, ghosts, and witches that knock on your door, including:
- Plastic spider rings
- Sticky hands
- Glow-in-the-dark critters
- Halloween-themed pencils and erasers
- Mini slinky toys
- Small boxes of crayons
- Mini glow sticks
Remember to Brush and Floss
It doesn’t matter whether your children eat one piece of candy or 10—after Halloween is over, ensure that they brush their teeth. Make this a habit every morning and night to help prevent tooth decay. A fun new toothbrush may help get your children excited about brushing.
Also, don’t forget the importance of flossing. As soon as two of a child’s teeth touch, food can get stuck between them, especially gummies and other chewy candy. Help children with brushing and flossing once they reach age 6 or 7 to make sure they’re doing it correctly. After that, continue to monitor them until you’re confident they have the hang of it.
Clearly, Halloween doesn’t have to be scary for your kids’ oral health! For more tips, or to schedule your family’s next dentist visit, please contact Glenwood Premier Dental in Hazlet at (732) 264-4477.
The changes that occur in your mouth usually happen gradually. This can make it difficult to tell when it’s time to visit the dentist. Watch for these signs that you should schedule your next appointment sooner rather than later.
It’s been six months since your last visit.
The American Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist regularly. For most people, this means scheduling an exam and cleaning twice a year. If you have periodontal disease or other health problems related to your teeth or gums, you may need more frequent visits than this. Follow your dentist’s advice about how often to schedule appointments.
You feel self-conscious about stained or discolored teeth.
Seeing the dentist every six months is largely about catching and treating cavities, gingivitis, oral cancer, and other health problems as early as possible. However, it’s also about helping you maintain a smile you can be proud of. If coffee, tea, and acidic foods have started to leave their mark on your teeth, you don’t need to wait six months for your next cleaning. Many patients schedule dentist appointments every three to four months to ensure they can always smile with confidence.
Teeth whitening is another cosmetic dental procedure that might encourage you to visit the dentist sooner rather than later. With professional in-office whitening, you can achieve the gorgeous white smile you have always wanted in under an hour.
You experience pain or sensitivity in your mouth.
From dull pain to throbbing toothaches, any pain in your mouth is worth checking out. Sudden sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks is also a cause for concern, especially if it affects your everyday activities. If you find that changes in your mouth are affecting your ability to sleep, speak, and eat, you should see your dentist as soon as possible.
Your denture, bridge, or other oral appliance isn’t fitting well anymore.
Teeth tend to shift over time, so if any dental work or removable appliance feels too tight, too loose, or simply “off,” talk to your dentist about getting an adjustment.
Your gums bleed significantly when you brush or floss.
A little blood in your toothpaste or on your floss isn’t a huge concern, but if the bleeding is significant or lasts for weeks after establishing a flossing routine, this could indicate an issue with your gums. If left unaddressed, you could develop periodontal disease.
You injure or knock out a tooth.
Emergency dentists offer same-day service for loose and knocked-out teeth. These situations call for immediate action to help save the damaged tooth. If you or your child needs emergency dental care for these or other reasons, call your dentist right away.
Glenwood Premier Dental offers a variety of cosmetic and restorative dental treatments to help you maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. Contact us today at (732) 264-4477 to let us know how our dentist in Hazlet can help you!
Your smile is the first thing most people notice about you. Are you self-conscious about your yellowing, stained teeth? Teeth whitening may only be cosmetic, but it’s a dental service many patients consider to be worthwhile. Here are four reasons why.
Enhance Your Appearance
You might have healthy, straight teeth with no cavities in sight, but a dull, stained smile can still turn people off. Whether your goal is to look good on a first date or get that promotion at work, whiter teeth can help your cause.
According to a 2012 survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96 percent of adults believe that having an attractive smile makes you more appealing as a partner. Then, 74 percent of respondents feel that an unattractive smile could hurt a person’s chances of excelling in their career. “Discolored, yellow, and stained teeth” were listed as factors that could make a smile unattractive.
Improve Your Self-Esteem
If you find yourself smiling with your lips together or feeling self-conscious when you notice someone looking at your mouth, it could be time for a teeth whitening session. When you know your teeth look good, you’re more likely to smile naturally instead of trying to hide your mouth. This helps you feel and act more confident, whether you’re on a date, giving a presentation, or attending a big event.
Draw Positive Attention to Your Smile
People assume a lot about you based on your smile. For instance, white teeth give off the impression that you live a healthy lifestyle, while stained teeth could make you appear less hygienic. Of course, this isn’t a fair assessment, since healthy habits such as drinking green tea and eating berries can stain your teeth.
With teeth whitening, you can leave a different impression, one that says you care about your appearance and health habits. A bright smile may even distract people from other features you feel insecure about, such as wrinkles, frown lines, or acne scars.
Enjoy a Whiter Smile at a Low Cost
Some people reach for over-the-counter products to whiten their teeth. While these options are cheaper than in-office whitening, the results are also limited.
Professional bleaching is the best way to noticeably whiten your smile in a single visit. The cost is far lower than other cosmetic procedures available to improve your appearance today. Plus, with an at-home touch-up kit, you can prolong the effects of professional whitening. This combination enhances your smile significantly with a small overall price tag.
Glenwood Premier Dental offers professional in-office teeth whitening and other cosmetic dentistry services so you can enjoy all these benefits to the fullest! To learn more about this procedure, or to schedule a consultation our Hazlet dentist, please contact us at (732) 264-4477 today.
What do you know about fluoride? As nature’s cavity fighter, fluoride is the key ingredient in most toothpastes and mouth rinses. You can also receive fluoride treatments at the dentist office. Here are five facts you might not have known about fluoride.
Fluoride is an element found in nature.
Even though you’re accustomed to hearing about fluoride in dental products, it’s not a lab-made chemical. In fact, fluoride is found in the earth’s crust, oceans, and atmosphere. As the 13th most abundant element on earth, it’s quite easy to come by. Tea plants, seawater, and volcanic rocks have relatively high concentrations of fluoride. Even some foods, such as fish, chicken, and rice, contain small amounts of fluoride.
Fluoridating municipal drinking water dates back 75 years.
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city in the US to fluoridate its drinking water. The decision came after research in the 1930s revealed that people growing up in areas with naturally fluoridated water had up to two-thirds fewer cavities than people with little to no fluoride in their water. The American Dental Association, World Health Organization, and many other groups recognize water fluoridation as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride strengthens teeth.
Whether ingested in your drinking water or applied directly to your teeth, fluoride helps prevent cavities in two ways. First, it hardens the enamel of developing teeth before they emerge through the gums.
Second, it hardens the calcium and phosphorous that your saliva deposits onto your teeth during the remineralization process that occurs naturally in your mouth. This makes the enamel harder than it would be otherwise, decreasing the risk of cavities in the process.
Most bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride.
The recommended fluoride level in community drinking water is one part per million. This promotes the proper intake for the average adult of 1.4 mg to 3.4 mg. If you drink mostly bottled water, you may not be getting enough fluoride.
Check the brand of bottled water you buy to see if it contains this vital nutrient. Then, discuss any concerns with your dentist. You or your children may be advised to take fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops, or lozenges. Your dentist can prescribe the proper dosage. Be sure to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste as well.
Too much fluoride can be detrimental.
Swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste or taking too many fluoride supplements can cause mild discoloration of developing teeth before they erupt from the gums. This condition, called dental fluorosis, only occurs in children who still have baby teeth, but the effects are permanent. Skeletal fluorosis is a rare disease that affects children and adults. However, it only develops if a person consumes significantly higher-than-average amounts of fluoride.
If you’re interested in fluoride treatments or supplements, contact our dentist in Hazlet at (732) 264-4477 to learn more. We can also answer questions about fluoride exposure and any other oral health concerns you have.