Take the bite out of fright night
COVID-19 social distancing restrictions don’t have to kill off Halloween this year – just be smart about the way you do it, and how your family wolfs down those sugary treats. While haunted houses, wicked witches and blood-sucking vampires are certainly spooky, there’s something way more scary about All Hallows Eve – tooth decay.
Dentists recommend that Australians taking part in trick-or-treating this Halloween should eat sweets in single sittings, rather than repeatedly returning to your stash throughout the day to grab more, as grazing on sweet treats is one of the worst habits for teeth.
“Most people won’t know this, but it’s better to consume sweets over a shorter period than to repeatedly expose your teeth to them over a prolonged period of time,” says Canberra dentist and Australian Dental Association (ADA) President Dr Carmelo Bonanno.
“This is because every assault of sugar that goes into your mouth feeds bacteria which create acid that dissolves the tooth enamel, exposing the mouth to decay. Doing this repeatedly through the day, over a few days or in the week after Halloween, is cumulative.”
Follow the ADA’s tips to slash tooth decay risk this Halloween:
• Eat your sweet treats at mealtimes: the saliva produced to help digest larger quantities of food can also cleanse and buffer mouth pH from acids caused by food and drink.
• Dark chocolate over lollies: dark chocolate has much lower sugar quantities than milk or white chocolates and lollies.
• Rinse after eating: rinse your mouth with water after eating sweets to help remove particles of foods and drinks from teeth.
• Drink your Halloween party soft drink with a (non-plastic) straw: that way the liquid goes straight to the back of the throat, bypassing your teeth.
• When shopping for Halloween treats, go for lollies that aren’t sticky and don’t sit in clumps in the back molar teeth – sticky sweets are more difficult to remove and linger for longer, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
• Don’t forget to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily, whatever the date.
You can keep your little demons happy with the ADA’s new recipe book, Tooth-friendly Treats, which is packed with delicious low-sugar recipes from dentists. Buy the e-book here or the paper copy here.