Snack all day, get tooth decay

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kathleen Shields
  • 66th Medical Squadron Dental Clinic
Halloween is fast approaching and with it comes the collection of ooey-gooey candies. Every little ghoul and goblin worked hard going door-to-door to earn those sweets, and it can be difficult for parents to resist their pleas for more.

Officials from the 66th Medical Squadron Dental Operations Flight ask parents to consider the following when children ask for candy this Halloween.

Each time something sugary is consumed, a 20 minute attack is launched against teeth. For those 20 minutes, the bacteria in the mouth feed off of the items we eat and drink to produce an acidic waste. This acidic waste breaks down tooth structure and, over time, forms cavities.

Snacking on foods constantly throughout the day will reset that 20 minute attack on the teeth each time. This will raise the risk of cavities forming.

And while Halloween is intended to be fun, no one likes to get a tooth filled.

To enjoy a cavity-free Halloween, the Dental Clinic offers these tips for parents and children alike.

Limit candy and snacks to shortly after meals. This reduces the time frame between snacking and will also reduce the amount of intervals the 20 minute attack on teeth is activated.

Ideally, brushing and flossing after each food encounter will keep teeth clean, healthy and strong.

When brushing and flossing is not possible during the day, try to drink water with meals. Allow it to wash over the teeth with each sip to help flush out sugar and any residual food particles that remain in the mouth after eating.

Using an antimicrobial mouth rinse will help kill germs that are present in the mouth. These are best used on mornings after routine brushing and flossing.

In addition, a fluoride mouth rinse will help combat the formation of cavities by strengthening any weakened areas caused by the acidic bacterial waste. These are best used at night after routine brushing and flossing. They are most effective right before going to bed, with nothing to eat or drink afterward, to ensure a full night's benefit of the rinse soaking into the weakened areas of the teeth.

While these tips are important to keep in mind for Halloween, they are also effective year-round.

Be on the lookout for sugar and carbohydrate content in food that is consumed. Some snacks that hide sugar and carbs include fruits and fruit juices, energy drinks, sodas, various crackers and cookies.

Now that you're armed with this knowledge, together, we can combat cavities.

For further information, contact the Dental Clinic at 781-225-6789 at extension 5.