If you know a kindergartener, or were ever a kindergartener, it’s fair to say you’ve heard at some point that the most awesome holiday is Halloween. Why is it better than all the rest? Pillowcases full of candy.
Though a young child’s dream come true, mounds of candy is a mouth’s (and a dentist’s) worst nightmare. Most of us know sugar is bad for teeth, but do we really know why?
We met up with Dr. Dan Shaw, Pediatric dentist and Clinical Associate Professor, Pediatric Dental Clinics at the University of Minnesota to explain just how food affects teeth, and why candy can be so bad.
He broke down the facts, starting with acid attacks.
“An acid attack happens when sugar in our food interacts with the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths to produce an acid which demineralizes or dissolves the tooth,” said Shaw. “This acid attack starts with the first taste of sugar and goes on for about a 20 minute period, so it takes 20 minutes for a mouth to go back to normal.”
Are there some candies that are real cavity culprits?
If you want to limit the duration and frequency of acid attacks on your teeth, Shaw says the goal is to be aware of how often and how long your teeth are exposed to sugar. So, things like suckers, hard candies and chewy candies, can be problematic.
“Sticky, gooey, chewy candies – like caramels – stick to your teeth and are more harmful in terms of what they will actually do,” explained Shaw. “They are on the teeth longer, causing a longer acid attack.”
Watch his full interview for tips on how to protect teeth from cavities during times of high sugar exposure, like Halloween.