June is National Candy Month—every smile’s worst nightmare! Although it’s certainly all right to indulge every once in a while, it’s important to be cautious whenever you choose to eat sugary snacks. Candy can wreak havoc on your oral health, as sugar feeds the bacteria inside of the mouth. The more sugar you consume, the more the bacteria is able to feed and produce acids that dissolve tooth enamel, causing tooth decay and cavities if left unchecked. However, Dr. Tikson has some suggestions of how you can indulge in some sweet treats without causing serious damage to your teeth.
1) Choose your candy wisely. Not all sweets are created equal—certain types of candy are much worse for your teeth. Here are the top three types of candy that you should try to avoid during this National Candy Month:
- Sour candy (i.e. Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, Sour Punch Straws): Any type of sour candy is high in acidic content. This acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making you more vulnerable to cavities.
- Chewy candy (i.e. Milk Duds, Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffy): These types of candies stick to your teeth, dissolving the enamel.
- Lollipops: When consuming candy, the frequency of exposure to the candy can actually be more damaging to your teeth than the quantity you consume. Since lollipops are consumed slowly over time, this ongoing exposure can be highly damaging to your oral health.
As an alternative to these candies, you should consider a high-quality dark chocolate–bonus points if the chocolate bar includes almonds, which actually contain minerals that help to strengthen tooth enamel! Since dark chocolate is low in sugar content, it does not have the same damaging effect on your teeth. Furthermore, high-quality chocolate contains tannins and polyphenols, which can actually slow the development of bacteria and plaque.
2) Brush and floss immediately after consuming sugar. Though it might be difficult to cut out sugar completely, you can take precautions to make sure that your sugar intake doesn’t harm your teeth. By brushing immediately after consuming a sweet treat, you can minimize the damage on your oral health. Make sure you floss, too—bacteria tend to hide between the teeth. It’s a great idea to keep a travel toothbrush and package of dental floss in your purse or desk to use on the go!
3) Consider a substitute for sugar. Sugar-free candies can provide a great alternative to your usual sweet treat. Xylitol, a popular sweetener in sugar-free candy, has actually been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes cavities.
4) Ask the dentist about applying a dental sealant. Sealants can provide a coating that help to protect your enamel from the damaging effects of sugar. This is a quick and easy way to fight tooth decay.
5) Visit the dentist for regular cleanings. Most importantly, you should always come into the dentist for your bi-annual cleaning and oral examination. This way, your teeth will get thoroughly cleaned and your dentist can check for the development of cavities.
Like everything else in life, it’s important to consume candy in moderation. With these tips in mind, you’re equipped to make smarter choices when you choose to indulge this National Candy Month. As long as you keep up good oral hygiene habits and visit Dr. Tikson regularly, you can maintain a healthy mouth!