Halloween Candy and Your Teeth


As Halloween looms around the corner, so do visions of candy apples, chewy caramels and sacks full of candy. Unfortunately, treats bring the threat of cavities with them too. If only you could trick yourself into staying away from Halloween candy completely. Instead, find out which candies are the worst for your teeth and how to reduce your chances of getting cavities after indulging.

Teeth, Meet Sugar

We grow up hearing that candy is bad for our teeth. In reality, the sugars in many foods, including bread and pasta, can contribute to cavities.

Your teeth are coated with plaque, which is a sticky film made of bacteria. When that bacteria is exposed to sugar, acid is produced. The acid degrades the enamel, eating away at it and leading to decay.

The Worst Candies For Cavities

If you’re concerned about your dental health or that of your kids this Halloween, you should know that some treats are worse for your teeth than others.

Sour Candies
Tooth enamel starts to be worn away when the pH level in your mouth is at 4.0. Sour candies have more acids than many other types of sugary treats. In fact, they tend to have a pH level of below 5.5. Below are the pH levels of common sour candies:

  • Sweetarts – 3.0
  • X-treme Airheads – 3.0
  • Sour Punch Straws – 2.5
  • Skittles – 2.5
  • Laffy Taffy – 2.5
  • Starburst – 2.4
  • Lemon Heads – 2.4
  • Sour Skittles – 2.2
  • ;Wonka Grape Nerds – 2.0
  • Wonka Fun Dip Powder – 1.6

To compare, battery acid has a pH of 1.0.

Sticky Candies
Treats that are chewy or sticky tend to cling to your teeth for longer than others, giving the sugar more time to combine with the bacteria and degrade the enamel. If your enamel has already eroded, your teeth might be more inclined to develop cavities.

You'll often know if you have enamel erosion because you might experience symptoms such as:

  • Sensitivity when you consume cold, hot or sweet items
  • Slightly yellowed teeth
  • Transparent enamel at the biting surface
  • Visible indentations on the surface of your teeth

Hard Candies
Hard candies are designed to melt away slowly. The longer they stay in your mouth, the more they wreak havoc on your teeth. Plus, you run the risk of damaging your teeth or breaking your fillings if you crunch down on hard candies.

The Best Candies For Your Teeth

If you're going to be picky about your Halloween candy, you might try to consume more of the treats that are less likely to contribute to cavities.

Sugar-Free Candy
Although sugar-free candy may be better than sticky, sugary goodies, some types of artificial sweetener are just as bad for your teeth as sugar. Plus, sugar-free foods often contain acidic additives, including citric acid, which damage the lining of your teeth.

Sugar-free treats that contain Xylitol might be a better option. Xylitol has been found to prevent bacteria from adhering to the teeth. It also helps the pH levels in your mouth remain neutral. Xylitol can even repair damaged enamel.

Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate. It also wipes off of teeth quickly. Choosing a piece of chocolate that contains nuts is even better. The nuts act as scouring pads and scrape sugar residue off of the teeth.

Powdered Candy
Although candy powders are usually straight sugar and acidic flavorings, they dissolve fairly quickly. Plus, you don't chew them, and they can largely bypass the teeth as they make their way across the tongue.

How To Take Care Of Your Teeth This Halloween

You're probably not going to bring a toothbrush trick-or-treating, and that's ok. Brushing your teeth immediately after they're softened from the acids in foods can grind away enamel quickly.

Wait approximately 30 minutes after eating candy before brushing your teeth. Drink and swish your mouth with plenty of water while you wait. Chewing sugar-free gum can pull sugar away from your teeth.

Although you may be tempted to sneak small bites of candy throughout the day, that's worse than eating a larger amount at one time. Your mouth is only designed to handle about four or five exposures to acid a day. If you limit the frequency of your candy consumption, you may be less likely to develop cavities.

If you're concerned about the health of your teeth, don't wait until they hurt to get them checked out. Regular cleanings remove the tartar that can build up around the gum line. Visiting your dentist frequently can help you monitor the status of your enamel and prevent cavities.


Do I Have a Cracked Tooth?


Chipped Tooth

You think you may have a cracked tooth, right? If so, you probably are feeling a little uneasy right now. You’re afraid that your tooth may suddenly split apart, and you would be subjected to intense pain. How can you know for sure, though, that your problems are the result of a cracked tooth and not something else?

Definition of a cracked tooth

What is a cracked tooth, anyway? It is simply a fracture or split within any part of the tooth. The crack may be on the outside of the tooth where it can be seen under the right conditions, or it could be hidden away from view on the inside of the tooth. The crack can penetrate the entire tooth or only a portion of it, and the crack can run in any direction. Symptoms associated with a cracked tooth. If you think you may have a cracked tooth, see if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Pain, especially when chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Sensitivity to sweetness
  • Swollen gums
  • General discomfort in one particular area of your mouth

If you have experienced any of these symptoms, does that mean it is a certainty that your tooth is cracked? As you probably have guessed by now, the answer is not that simple. While the symptoms listed above are often associated with a cracked tooth, they could be indicative of other problems as well. In most cases, unless you can actually see the crack in your tooth, it will be difficult for you to make a determination without professional help.

Causes of a cracked tooth

What causes a tooth to crack? Here are some of the more common reasons:

  • A physical injury to an individual tooth or to the mouth
  • A large filling in a tooth which causes the tooth to weaken
  • Biting down on a hard substance such as hard candy
  • Grinding the teeth, which often occurs during sleep

Avoiding a cracked tooth

How can you avoid cracking a tooth? One way is to wear a mouth guard when you play sports or participate in other activities that might subject you to bodily harm. Another is to use tools for prying things open instead of doing so with your teeth. Get regular dental checkups and never ignore potential problems. Also, keep your teeth healthy by practicing good oral hygiene which includes regular brushing and flossing. Keep in mind that a healthy tooth is less likely to crack than an unhealthy one.

Risks associated with a cracked tooth

Remember that your overall wellbeing is affected by your dental health. If you suspect that your tooth is cracked, and you leave it untreated, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of future problems, including the following:

  • Infections, such as an abscess, which may require antibiotics
  • Further tooth decay
  • Tooth splitting apart, requiring an extraction
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Seeking the aid of a professional

If you think you may have a cracked tooth, you will probably need to see a dentist who can provide the comprehensive care you need. That is because a cracked tooth can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. The dentist will likely ask you a series of questions concerning your dental history and the symptoms you are experiencing in an effort to locate the exact problem. He or she may examine your teeth using a magnifying glass and possibly take X-rays. Probes and other dental tools may be used to narrow down the search. In more difficult cases, the dentist may apply a dye which can make cracks more visible.

Treatment options

If it is determined that you do have a cracked tooth, what can you expect in the way of treatment options? This will depend, of course, on the severity of the damage and whether your tooth is actually cracked or not. If your tooth is chipped, the dentist may be able to repair it by either gluing the chipped piece back on or by fabricating a replacement part. A small crack can often be repaired by filling it with a dental bonding material. If the surface of the tooth is beyond repair, the typical fix would be to crown the tooth. Crowns, also known as caps, are made from compatible materials and bonded to the base of the tooth using dental cement. If the damage to the tooth has affected the root system, it may be necessary to perform a root canal, and in more severe cases, the tooth may have to be extracted.


Las Vegas Dentist

If you suffer from crooked teeth, either one of two things may be true. Either you (1) would like to get them fixed but don't know how or (2) know that they are crooked but just don't think it matters. However, there may be another angle to consider: the effect of crooked teeth on your physical health. Teeth that overlap or sit too far apart can be hard to clean and are likely wear at an uneven rate. Decay, gum disease, headaches, jaw pain and difficulty in chewing are just a few of the problems that can result, to say nothing of the embarrassment crooked teeth can cause.

The good news is that all is not lost. There are things you can do to correct the problem. If your tooth misalignment is not too severe, you may achieve the desired result through:

  • Cosmetic contouring. This fast and reasonably priced solution works well for people whose teeth are worn, chipped or slightly crooked. The success of this treatment rests heavily on the thickness of the existing tooth enamel and the characteristics of the bite. It may not be the answer for everyone, but if you should prove to be a viable candidate, cosmetic contouring can reward you with an improved appearance and teeth that are far easier to clean.
  • Tooth bonding. The application of plastic resin can improve the appearance and function of crooked teeth in as little as one dental visit. This material, once in place, is easily sculpted and trimmed into an attractive shape. Bonding is often performed in conjunction with cosmetic contouring to fill in empty gaps and correct overlaps. This cost-effective technique also works well to improve the appearance of teeth that happen to be stained or chipped.
  • Porcelain veneers. These undetectable, stain-resistant ceramic shells bond invisibly to the existing teeth, making them look straighter.
  • Crowns. Second in cost only to orthodontia, crowns can dramatically correct the appearance of crooked or crowded teeth. However, the success of this treatment depends on the ability to align the crowned teeth properly with their next-door neighbors.

Although any one of these cosmetic techniques can serve as a lower-cost alternative to traditional braces for straightening teeth, they unfortunately won't do the trick for everyone. There are times that only braces will help you achieve the desired result. There are several types of braces available today. Depending on your situation, your dentist may recommend:

  • Metal braces. This traditional type of dental brace consists of brackets that attach to the teeth and metal wires that thread through these brackets to apply the pressure that moves the teeth into position. This is the least expensive type of brace and may work the fastest, but they are impossible to hide, and not everyone finds them comfortable.
  • Ceramic braces. Less widely used and somewhat more expensive than the metal variety, ceramic braces are harder to notice when in place. Although they achieve results at about the same rate as metal braces, they do tend to stain and can also be uncomfortable to wear.
  • Lingual braces. These are very similar to traditional metal braces except that instead of attaching to the front of the teeth, the metal brackets attach to the back. In this position, they are hard to notice unless the wearer opens his mouth. They are also more comfortable to wear. However, they are somewhat more difficult to keep clean and may cause problems with speech. In addition, lingual braces are more expensive and slower to work.
  • Self-ligating braces. Although similar in style to traditional metal braces, the self-ligating variety secure the wire with doors or clips rather than the rubber bands employed by the older type. Self-ligating braces are also less painful to wear, easier to clean and available in either metal or ceramic. However, they may not be right for every patient.
  • Invisible braces. More expensive than other types of dental braces, the invisible variety is virtually undetectable when in place. They remove completely to allow for cleaning and afford more comfort than do traditional metal braces. While they are not likely to work well in severe cases, their inconspicuous nature has attracted many users.

When it comes to straightening your teeth, there are many methods out there. Regardless of the one on which you and your dental professional finally decide, having straighter teeth will:

  • Improve your appearance.
  • Increase your self-confidence.
  • Make your teeth easier to clean and less likely to decay.

Straighter teeth can also help you live longer. That's because they are easier to floss, and studies have shown that people who floss daily can add up to seven years to their lifespans.

If you live in Las Vegas and are interested in straightening your teeth, Dr. James White can help. Contact our office today. We will evaluate your situation and help you choose the tooth-straightening method that best suits your circumstances.