The tooth fairy's advice on Halloween

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kyle Pelkey
  • 49th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
It's a well-known fact that tooth decay results from excessive sugar in the diet and poor oral hygiene. So it is understandable why many advocate boycotting Halloween's candy. After all, letting the kids have all that sugar-filled candy is bound to cause them to have cavities, right?

As Lee Corso might say on college football game day, "Not so fast, my friends!"

There is a good article that came out in this month's Journal of the American Dental Association titled, Preventing dental caries associated with sugar-sweetened beverages. The article gives us parents a much better area to focus on in our kids' diets: Sugar Sweetened Beverages.

Many people immediately think that this just means soda and pure fruit juices. SSBs include ANY drinks that are high in sugar content, including some "healthy" drinks like sports drinks and smoothies. Generally speaking, there are various types of sugars in almost all drinks on the market.

Now let me relieve some anxiety about this. It's OK to have a sugary drink or a piece of candy every once in a while! Here's the key: Don't be an all-day sipper or snacker! This tooth fairy has had a lot of dental work because I didn't know an all-important concept about sugar and cavities when I was young. It's not about how much you's all about HOW LONG.

The risk for tooth decay is related to how long the sugar stays on your teeth, not how much you eat or drink. Here's an illustration I love to share with my patients: Imagine its 100 degrees outside, and you pour a soda onto the hood of your car. Goodbye paint!

Now imagine doing that, but one second later you vigorously rinse it off with the hose, or better yet wash it off. The result would be dramatically different, right? The same thing applies to sugar on your teeth. If you drink it relatively quickly and rinse with water afterwards, chew sugarless gum or even brush your teeth, your risk is tremendously lowered.

So with that in mind, what does this Tooth Fairy recommend for Halloween? Let your kids have fun and enjoy Halloween! Just make sure they're not eating candy for hours, and that they floss and brush it off before going to bed. By the way...I have never, and will never hand out toothbrushes or floss on Halloween. I expect you as parents to already have that covered. Happy Halloween!

-Tooth Fairy