Help save those healthy smiles this Halloween

by Master Sgt. Eric W. Anderson
435th Dental Squadron

***image1***As Halloween nears, your child’s head is most likely clogged with thoughts of ghostly ghouls, creepy costumes and titanic treat bags.  
The potential risk for candy-coated cavities is the last thing on the minds of your little pirates and princesses.

However, while sugar is a well known troublemaker, it is just one of the ingredients needed to start the tooth decay process.

So, how are cavities formed? They occur through repeated attacks of acid on the tooth enamel.
How does this happen?  The cavity-causing bacteria in our mouths use sugars, found in the foods and drinks that we consume, as an energy source.
The byproduct of this energy is harmful acid, which causes tooth enamel to continuously break down until a cavity is formed.

Cavities are known as a multi-factorial disease. In order for them to form, there must be four characteristics present: a susceptible tooth surface, cavity forming bacteria,
sugar and time.

All teeth are susceptible to decay. Once we ingest sugar, the environment in our mouths changes immediately, favoring acid and cavity formation.
With continuous eating or drinking, this environment remains susceptible to decay for an indefinite period of time.

For example, it is better to drink a soda quickly rather than sipping it throughout the day. Otherwise, you are continually bathing your teeth in sugar and acid.
And, while foods such as raisins, crackers and low fat chips are not necessarily bad for your body, they do tend to stick to your teeth for longer periods of time.

Therefore, it is even more important to ensure that good brushing and flossing habits are in place. To keep that healthy smile and reduce the risk of cavities, teeth should be brushed at least twice daily. Flossing should be done at least once a day.
Your children can still enjoy their bounty of goodies this Halloween.
Just keep in mind that sound oral hygiene practices in the home can keep that sweet tooth from going sour.