A: Indulging in a treat (or two) on Halloween will not necessarily increase your chances of getting a cavity. However, you do need to be aware of what you eat the other 364 days of the year. Americans consume on average more than 150 pounds of sugar each year, and it continues to rise. The increase is partly due to the higher consumption of prepared and processed foods in our diet. These foods use added sugars as sweeteners.
The amount of sugar consumed and the frequency of its consumption are key factors in developing a cavity. The bacteria that are naturally found in your mouth ingest sugar and create acid as a by-product. This acid causes tooth decay. As I tell my younger patients, “The sugar bugs poop on your teeth, and that poop will eat holes in your teeth.” Studies have shown that the acidity in the mouth can last up to 20 minutes after a snack. Multiple snacking episodes during the day then will result in repeated acid attacks on the teeth. For example, sipping on a bottle of pop all afternoon is much worse than simply drinking a bottle of pop during lunch.
To help prevent tooth decay, limit sugars and carbohydrates, limit snacking, eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, brush for at least two minutes twice daily with a toothpaste containing fluoride, floss daily and see your dentist regularly for a check up and cleaning. Have a happy Halloween!
Information provided by Dr. Christopher W. Blanchard, Blanchard Family Dentistry, 820 West Summit St., 462-4474