Most of us would agree that the most exciting thing about Halloween – aside from scaring your mates with the most gruesome (or sometimes, just gruesomely hilarious) costume – is the sweets.
Toffee apples, chewy gummy sweets, fizzy drinks and chocolate: the best Halloween parties have them all, and they’re a must when trick-or-treating.
It doesn’t take a crazy scientist to know that all those sweets aren’t exactly the best idea to help you to take care of your teeth, though – and Halloween is best when the scares end as soon as the 31st October is over.
While enjoying the fun and sweet treats of Halloween, there are ways you can make sure that those treats don’t turn into tricks and come back to haunt you after all the Halloween fun.
We figure that you’ve probably got the basics (brush your teeth, don’t eat too many sweets) down, but we reckon it’s important to understand why these things are important. It’s only when you really know why you’re doing something that you take real care over doing it.
How bad can a handful of sweets be, anyway?
Tooth decay happens because acid inside your mouth attacks the enamel on your teeth – and that acid can come from sugar which interacts with the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth to attack your teeth. This can lead to a bunch of dental issues: mainly dental cavities. The more sugary foods we eat, the more acid that is produced as a waste product from bacteria in the plaque of our teeth, which uses sugar for energy. That means that there’s a greater risk of the enamel on our teeth, which is there to protect us, gradually dissolving over time. Reducing the amount of sugar we eat is the best way to reduce the number of cavities we suffer, but we can go a step further, too.
Not all sweets were created equal
We’re not just talking about which ones taste the best – some sweets really are worse for your teeth than others. Sticky, slowly dissolving sweets are the worst because they hang around in your mouth for longer, meaning that the acids they produced are exposed to your teeth for longer. Picking sweets that have less acids, and stick around for less time, is a better choice (that means picking chocolate over a chewy lemon sweet that’s got citric acid in).
Save yourself from a scare
As well as reducing the number of sweets we eat, saving them for special occasions like trick-or-treating, we can take better care of our teeth by looking after our teeth to prevent tooth decay. Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water and has been linked to prevented tooth decay, which is way it’s added to toothpaste – in some areas, it’s added to the water supply through fluoridation.
It’s important to remember not to brush your teeth immediately after you’ve eaten sugary foods, though: because sugary foods weaken the enamel on your teeth, if you brush your teeth straight after, you can brush away tiny particles of enamel. You should wait at least one hour after eating to brush your teeth. Drinking water after eating sweets can help to dislodge and remove food particles though, without damaging enamel.
A sound night’s sleep
If you’re careful to follow our advice, you’ll be sure to avoid any nightmarish situations involving your teeth – and you won’t be kept up all night with toothache. And while we’re on the subject of sleep, it’s best you don’t gorge on all those sweets from trick-or-treating as soon as you arrive home at night. As well as being kept awake all night by the sugar rush, your mouth won’t be able to properly rebalance a healthy environment for your teeth. That’s because when we sleep, our mouths are dryer, and we produce less saliva. Saliva plays a really important role in protecting our teeth, and so if we sleep immediately after eating, we’re not giving it a chance to look after them.
We hope you have a seriously spooky Halloween – but, with our tips, manage to avoid any unexpected scares!