Is too much Candy a Treat or a Trick?

With Halloween happening this evening, many children will be going through their neighborhoods, going door to door chanting the words, “Trick or Treat”. Of course, they expect a treat, but how good are these treats for their teeth and are there some candies better than others?

The real problem isn’t so much the amount of sugar, but the streptococcus bacteria in our mouths that  feed on it. When this bacteria feeds on the sugary tidbits lodged in your teeth, they excrete acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.  That’s why it’s important to brush your teeth after eating candy.

If you must eat candy, there are some better than others.

  • Sugar-free Lollipops and Hard Candies and Sugar Free Chewing Gum: These act in similar ways by stimulating saliva, which prevents dry mouth. A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities. Also chewing sugar free gum containing the artificial sweeteners sorbitol and xylitol reduces cavities.
  • Dark Chocolate: Even though there is a lot of sugar in chocolate, dark chocolate has been shown to have antioxidants, which are good for your heath.  Just remember to eat in moderation.

Bad candies to avoid include:

  • Snacks high in sugar such as cake, cookies and candy corn.
  • Chewy sticky sweets such as gummy bears, taffy and caramels that can get stuck between your teeth.
  • Sour candies. Candies high in acid can break down tooth enamel.

One good thing to remember is that saliva slowly helps to restore the natural balance of the acid in the mouth. After eating acidic foods, wait around 20 minutes before brushing to allow the natural acting saliva to do its thing, otherwise you might cause more damage by brushing acid onto tooth surfaces.

Candy can be a treat if you choose the right kind, and limit the bad ones.

Sensitive Teeth

Do cold or hot foods or liquids such as ice cream or coffee cause you pain?  Do you have trouble sometimes with brushing or flossing? If so you may be experiencing a problem that affect many people, sensitive teeth.

Possible causes for sensitive teeth can include cavities, a fractured tooth, worn fillings and or tooth enamel, gum disease or an exposed tooth root.

According to mouthhealthy.org there is a layer of enamel that protects the crowns of your teeth—the part above the gum line. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals).

“When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.”

The treatment recommended depends on what is causing your sensitivity problem. Listed below are a variety of treatments from mouthhealthy.org:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.

The good news is that sensitive teeth can be treated!  Ask Dr. Brogdon if you have any questions about your oral hygiene or any issues you may be experiencing with tooth sensitivity.  Don’t continue to suffer, we’re here to help.