Ahhh, the intoxicating aroma of chocolate and love. Yes, Valentine’s Day is approaching, and sweets are in abundance. The candy aisles in stores have tripled in size, with everything from gigantic chocolate hearts to sticky gummy delights. As we progressively eat our way through sweet delicacies until the last Easter Peep has been polished off, Valentine’s Day seems to be the unofficial start of months of candy binges.
Please don’t misunderstand us. We enjoy goodies as well. However, we wouldn’t be your favorite Houston area Pediatric Dentists if we didn’t issue a warning about the harm sugar is doing to your child’s (and your) teeth in the background. But don’t be concerned. We’ve got your back. We’ll tell you which Valentine’s Day candy is best for your teeth and how to mitigate the sugar overload.
Cavities form when bacteria in your mouth digest sugar and generate acid, weakening the enamel of your teeth. This weakening eventually leads to tooth disease and cavities.
Sugar from candy, or any other meal, coats your teeth and gums. While saliva is important in wiping away some of it, it won’t get all of it…especially the sticky, chewy, gummy stuff. Even suckers and hard candies are hard on your teeth since they linger in your mouth for long periods of time and often press against the same teeth. If sugar remains on the teeth, microorganisms in the mouth will feed on it and attack the tooth.
We realize we won’t be able to persuade the entire globe to give up candy, but we can encourage our parents to restrict their consumption and make good decisions. Both the type and the time of the sweets are important. We don’t want to detract from the enjoyment. We just want to make sure that all the enjoyment doesn’t result in tooth decay! So, how can you pick the greatest candy for your teeth this Valentine’s Day?
1) Select good quality products. The finest selections are soft chocolates that melt rapidly and are easily removed from teeth. Avoid sticky, hard, or gummy candy that will stick to your teeth for an extended amount of time.
2) Candy should only be consumed as a post-meal dessert. Not only will this boost your chances of drinking water and washing away part of the sugar, but it will also ensure that your tooth isn’t inundated with direct sugar all day.
3) Hydrate. Make careful to drink water after each snack to help wash away the sugar. Staying hydrated also aids in the production of saliva, which is necessary for washing away sugar and bacteria and maintaining oral health.
4) Brush and floss…but do it after a few minutes. Brushing your teeth after eating sugary foods is a good idea. However, you must avoid washing teeth that have already been compromised by acid attacks, which occur every time you eat. Brushing after a half-hour wait allows minerals to redeposit on the enamel and the pH of your mouth to adjust.
5) Sealants. Dental sealants are a tried-and-true way of preventing cavities by coating teeth with a thin, protective layer that keeps germs and food out. Sealants are especially effective in keeping sugar and bacteria out of the crevices of molars and other hard-to-reach teeth.
6) Don’t forget about non-candy snacks.
We’re not saying you can’t celebrate with candy hearts and chocolate, but make sure the majority of the prizes aren’t candy. Keep in mind that the best Valentine’s Day sweets for your teeth is none at all. We are, nonetheless, human beings. And we all enjoy a little chocolate and candy now and then. Just remember that Valentine’s Day is only one day, not a month!