Tonight, kids, teens, and adults across the nation will be celebrating Halloween. While we love candy and costumes as much as anyone, we always want our patients to be aware of how their Halloween haul can cause tooth decay. Understanding this link can help you make better oral health decisions and protect your smile.
Question: How does candy lead to cavities?
Answer: When we eat foods high in sugar and other starches, the food particles left behind between and on the teeth are brown down by bacteria. The process increases oral acidity and coats the teeth in plaque, a sticky biofilm. Soon, the plaque buildup can weaken enamel, causing enamel erosion and allowing bacteria to reach the inner layers of dentin, where a cavity can form.
Question: Can I take steps to make decay less likely?
Answer: Yes. First, make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day (two minutes each time) and flossing around each tooth before going to bed. We also suggest limiting candy consumption to meal times and drinking water. The water can help rinse away the food particles and contains no sugar.
Question: How do I know if I should see a dentist?
Answer: Once you notice your teeth feel sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, or if a serious toothache develops, we suggest seeing the dentist. Discomfort can be a warning sign of decay. If you ignore the pain, eventually the decayed tooth can become infected, leading to greater discomfort and even a risk of losing the tooth completely.
Question: How do dentists treat cavities?
Answer: In many cases we remove the decay and place a lifelike filling made from composite resin. For more advanced cases, we may also place a dental crown over the tooth.