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Dentists deliver shocking surprise to sugar lovers

Scoff all your sweets at once this Halloween to slash the risk of harming those fangs, the Australian Dental Association urges the nation’s sweetie-chompers.

“It may come a surprise to hear a dentist say this, but if you have your sweets in the one sitting or over just one day, then the sugar isn’t continuing to hang around in your mouth, causing more opportunities for decay,” says ADA President Dr Carmelo Bonanno.

“Every time you eat sugar, it feeds bacteria which create acid, breaking down the tooth enamel and exposing the mouth to decay. Doing this repeatedly over a few days or in the week after Halloween is compounding.

“So keep the sweet-eating to the day of Halloween, October 31, and give your mouth a break from sweets after that.”

With around 70% of kids consuming too much sugar and a third of children aged five to ten having untreated tooth decay*, here are the ADA’s nine top tips for minimising the harm of sugary indulgences:

  • eat sugary treats with meals as the saliva produced to help digest larger quantities of food can also cleanse and buffer the mouth pH from acids caused by food and drink;
  • go for chocolate over candy. It leaves less residue, and contains the protein casein, which creates a protective film over the tooth’s enamel surface, reducing risk of decay;
  • chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva;
  • rinse your mouth with water after eating anything sugary to help neutralize acid attacks,
  • consume your Halloween party soft drink with a straw so the liquid goes straight to the back of the throat and bypasses the teeth;
  • when shopping for kids’ trick or treat goodies, opt for candy or lollies that aren’t sticky and don’t sit in clumps in back molar teeth – sticky sweets are more difficult to remove and linger longer;
  • dark chocolate is better than milk as the sugar content is slightly lower;
  • the dark variety also contains polyphenols which fight oral bacteria and neutralize organisms that cause bad breath, flavonoids which slow tooth decay and antioxidants which help fight gum disease;
  • and of course, brush teeth twice a day and floss daily – whatever the date.

“Even the teeth of very young children should be flossed daily – particularly at Halloween when sweetie particles can lodge between teeth and continue the party in your child’s mouth,” said Dr Bonanno.

“Don’t let yours or your children’s poor Halloween habits haunt your family for years to come. Observe these tips so your mouth doesn’t become a casualty of these fun celebrations.”

*These are figures from the Children and Young People Oral Health Tracker, a report card on preventable oral disease put together by the ADA and the Australian Health Policy Collaboration.

Source: Australian Dental Association

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