As ghosts, witches and superheroes stock up on candy, Air Force dental professionals highlight the risks of tooth decay and advise children to maintain proper dental hygiene this Halloween.
With candy being a major part of trick-or-treating, 2nd Dental Squadron Airmen provide tips on how to fight cavities.
“Any sugar or carbohydrate is going to be converted to an acid by the bacteria in your mouth,” said Staff Sgt. Amanda Perkins, 2nd Dental Squadron NCO in-charge of preventative dentistry. “Every time you eat or drink, those bacteria will turn into acid for 20 minutes.”
As a result, the acid produced changes the acidic values making the mouth more vulnerable to cavities.
“Candies and other sugary things tend to stick to the teeth more and increase the time which acid is being produced, harming the tooth.” she added.
Proper dental care can help avoid prolonged exposure to harmful acids that lead to tooth decay.
“There are a couple of things that you can do to help prevent tooth decay,” Perkins said. “One, controlling the intervals in which you eat reduces the amount of time your tooth is exposed to that acid. Also brushing your teeth right after eating, will help rid teeth of sugar and wash the acid away.”
Additionally, there are alternatives to traditional Halloween treats that can protect against cavities.
“Other options are mints and chewing gums that have xylitol,” Perkins said. “Xylitol is actually a sugar alcohol which can’t be broken down into an acid, so it kind of tricks bacteria in the mouth into attacking it instead of the other carbohydrates and sugars.”
Furthermore, children can also help prevent cavities by controlling when they eat candy.
“If you are going to have candy, try to have it with a big meal,” Perkins added. “Don’t snack on it throughout the day, set up specific times to have it.”
By controlling portions and maintaining proper dental hygiene, Airmen and their families prepare themselves for healthier habits this Halloween.