The Cavity Caper
Happy October everyone! This is a month of colored leaves, pumpkins, and of course, Halloween! Dressing up and getting free candy is right up there with Christmas as far as awesome holidays go. There’s of course the joke that Halloween is a dentist’s favorite holiday due to the large influx of sugar making cavities form for kids and adults alike. Truthfully, it can months or even years for cavities to form! Going a little overboard on Halloween night will only cause problems later if there’s no brushing and flossing after the binge.
So What Does Cause Cavities?
Factors contributing to cavities do include diets high in sugar, poor dental hygiene, and even tooth grinding. Enamel is weaker in children under six years old, so it’s especially important during these times with lots of sugary sweets to stress good hygiene. When plaque stays on your teeth, the bacteria eats away at the material beneath. This causes demineralization to the tooth. More bacteria means the mouth becomes acidic and ideal for a faster rate of decay (a pH below 5.5 is considered critical). If plaque stays on the tooth too long, the bacteria continues to attack the enamel and dentin leaving visible signs. At that point it becomes a full-blown cavity.
However, demineralization isn’t a straight path. Teeth can go through remineralization, through good hygiene and a diet low in sugar and high in tooth-healthy vitamins. This allows the mouth to have a non-acidic environment- perfect for teeth to try and rebuild from damage done. If a serious cavity has already formed, a dentist will need to be seen as that damage is irreversible and most likely painful.
In conclusion, cavities do not form overnight. Halloween is a great time to indulge the sweet tooth as long as it’s not an everyday binge on sugar. It’s important to take extra care of your teeth if more sugar is introduced to the diet. Be sure to floss, and if possible even swish the mouth with fluoridated water after a candy craving is indulged! Halloween is such a fun time to celebrate childhood, don’t let the fear of cavities scare away the excitement!