Well, here it is Halloween time again. Certainly in this somewhat tumultuous time our traditions may be modified somewhat. The usual ritual of kids going door to door or to a neighborhood party may be scaled back, but the two constants still are costumes and candy. Now don’t get too concerned. One day of overindulgence won’t destroy your kids’ teeth, or your own for that matter. Have some fun on the holiday, and then get right back to the prevention message that kids should hear. That starts with a good tooth brushing before bed that night.
Tooth decay begins with bacterial plaque that is allowed to grow on a tooth surface. The plaque grows all the time and will re-grow on a clean tooth within 24 hours. The bacteria use sugar or carbohydrate in the diet and metabolize it to produce acids that will de-mineralize tooth enamel and eventually destroy it, causing a cavity. The more frequently the bacteria get carbohydrate, the more acid has time to eat at the tooth. In fact, each intake of carbohydrate results in 20 minutes of acid attack. Add up all those doses of sugar over time, and the results are not healthy.
Good brushing and flossing habits to remove plaque every day are the cornerstone of prevention. Fluoride in toothpaste or a rinse will help re-mineralize damaged enamel in the early, reversible stages. And limiting the number of times the teeth are exposed to sugars will limit the acid attack time on the teeth.
So have a Happy Halloween. Be safe, enjoy the events and the foods and then return to sensible and careful preventive behavior.