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CANDY!! Yes it's that time of year again! 2 masterful tips to help parents navigate candy overload

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By Dr. Alma Correia, Board Certified Pediatric Dentist with Baptiste Orthodontics & Dentistry for Kids

Despite the fact that I’m a dentist, I too love sweets! So, when skipping on the candy is NOT an option, the most important thing to keep in mind is moderation and limiting the frequency of snacking on these sweet treats.

Here are a few tips to help kids enjoy this time of year AND keep their teeth intact:

1. Eat sweets with meals rather than on their own

Did you know that although tooth decay is caused by a number of different factors, one of the main causes of cavities is the frequency of snacking?

That’s right, snacking and drinking sugary beverages throughout the day or between meals can significantly increase the risk of dental decay. Everyone has certain amounts of bacteria in their mouth that like to feed off of the food left on our teeth. This bacteria loves sugar in particular, and when it consumes that sugar, it creates an acid, which essentially is what eats away at the enamel of the teeth, thus causing decay.

One of the ways to help decrease this risk of getting cavities and still enjoy sweets is to try to eat it with meals. It is better to have a piece of candy, cookies, cake, etc as a dessert after dinner rather than eating it throughout the day. This also applies to sugary beverages such as juice, soda, and sports drinks. Sipping on sugary drinks over time is worse than having it with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. One of the reasons for this is because the amount of saliva produced during a meal increases and this can help to rinse food particles from teeth as well as neutralize the acid from the bacteria in the mouth.

2. Limit sticky candies

Some of the worst candies for our teeth are the sticky, “gooey”, gummy and taffy kinds that gets stuck in the teeth.

A few suggestions to help:

  • Have a piece of straight chocolate as an alternative to the other types of candy.
  • Try drinking a glass of water while eating these sweets, as a way to “rinse the mouth”.
  • Make sure that you are brushing twice daily for two minutes, in the morning and at night right before bed.
  • Floss at least once daily, which helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth, where the toothbrush has a difficult time cleaning.

If you are interested in some healthy alternatives to candy and sweets, eating foods that are rich in calcium such as cheese, nuts such as almonds, and leafy greens are good for the teeth. Foods that are rich in protein such as fish, meat and eggs are also a good source of minerals that help to rebuild tooth enamel.

Lastly, don't forget to visit the dentist at least twice a year and enjoy the holiday season!!

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