By Raymond G. Hatland, DDS
Here some tips to help prevent teeth from the harmful effects of sugar this Halloween:
- Be a label snob. Read food labels carefully to identify sugars, which also come in the form of corn syrup, molasses, dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, and honey. Even an innocent breath mint can be made of pure sugar that can cause cavities.
- Wash it down. When eating Halloween candy, make sure to finish it off with a big glass of water, which will clean sugar residue off the teeth.
- Avoid sticky situations. When satisfying your candy cravings keep in mind that sticky sweets like toffee or hard candy that linger in your mouth compound the effects of sugar by offering a sustained food source for bacteria. Remember that it’s not necessarily the amount of sugar that can cause decay, but how long the candy stays in the mouth, which is why hard candies like suckers or sticky treats such as caramels and jujubes are poor choices from a dental perspective.
- Chocolate lovers rejoice. If trying to rationalize a chocolate craving, remember that popping a piece of solid chocolate in your mouth is better than choosing one filled with a gooey center, as the candy filling may stick to the teeth and provide a longer lasting food source for the natural bacteria to feed from in the mouth.
- Mind your whole body. Halloween comes but once a year, but even several days of excess sugar can wreak havoc not just on your teeth, but elsewhere in the body too. Too much sweet stuff can cause blood sugar to spike and cause an energy crash later on. Look after your dental and general health by regularly reading all the ingredients in all packaged foods before you buy them and seeking out low-sugar alternatives.
If possible, rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth thoroughly after exposure to sugars. If you can’t do that right away, keep a supply of sugar-free gum with xylitol on hand to help cleanse your mouth. This way you can enjoy Halloween without the scary cavities.
Raymond Hatland, DDS, attended the University of Illinois in Urbana from 1960 to 1962, and the University of Illinois College of Dentistry from 1962 to 1966, graduating in the upper 20% of his class. He participated in the U.S. Army’s one-year rotating internship program at Ireland Army Hospital in Fort Knox, Ky., receiving advanced training in all specialty areas including oral surgery, fixed and removable prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, pedodontics, and oral medicine. Since 1975, Dr. Hatland has taken more than 1,600 hours of continuing-education courses in all of the above areas of dentistry as well as functional orthodontics and many alternative and energy system related courses and seminars, and has written several articles about his periodontal research regarding the reverse gum disease program. Dr. Hatland has been selected as a member of America’s Top Dentists and named Dentist of the Year for 2003 through 2005 by the Consumer Business Review. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Indiana Dental Association, the Indianapolis District Dental Society, the Holistic Dental Association, and an associate member of the Chicago Dental Society. Dr. Hatland is also a practitioner with the ChicagoHealers.com network.