Magazine article USA TODAY

Take Just a Little Candy, So as to Leave the Cavities

Magazine article USA TODAY

Take Just a Little Candy, So as to Leave the Cavities

Article excerpt

Plastic vampire teeth, as popular as they may be on Oct. 31, are no replacement for your child's own teeth. While any candy should be consumed in moderation at all times of the year--sugar-free if possible--there are other factors to be aware of so that the Halloween holiday does not have lingering effects.

Sugar is a known, major cause of tooth decay and cavities. Even after the candy bars are devoured and your offspring's themed bucket or bag has been emptied, sugar and plaque lurk in the crevices of teeth and cause cavities. If not removed by brushing, bacteria in the mouth will feed on the sugar and turn it into acid, which then attacks tooth enamel and causes decay.

"Halloween is a time for children to enjoy, but you don't want them to be paying for it in dental pain down the road," warns Doyle Williams, chief dental officer of DentaQuest, Boston, Mass. "Parents need to help their kids fight cavities by moderating the volume of candy they consume and lowering the amount of time sugar stays in contact with their teeth."

Here are a few guidelines to safeguard children's teeth as they savor their sweets:

* Look for Halloween treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars.

* Sugar-free gums that use Xylitol, the all-natural sweetener, are a great candy alternative. …

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