Many people come in for check up visits after Halloween worried that they are going to have cavities on their teeth as a result of all of the sugary treats that they were eating a few days or weeks before, but is having candy on Halloween going to cause your teeth to have cavities right away?
The answer is no, however it is still a good idea to limit the amount sugary treats that you have.
Cavities are caused by bacterial plaque that builds up on your teeth, those bacteria eat sugars and make sticky byproducts that help them adhere to your teeth, and also acidic byproducts. This acidity is what causes cavities, because it is that acid which leaches minerals from the surface of the tooth, which weakens it and allows the bacteria to penetrate under the surface. It is said that on average it takes more than a year for bacteria to penetrate from the surface of the tooth, to get to a level where a cavity can be detected. There are many factors that influence this amount of time, however cavities do not begin extremely quickly, although once they begin, they do tend to get larger much faster since those bacteria are now under the surface of the tooth where brushing and flossing is not effective at cleaning them away.
It is certainly what you do on a regular basis that will have more impact on developing cavities than what you do at a single holiday, do not fear, you can enjoy some treats on Halloween without having your teeth fall apart.
Still, there are some things that you can do to help to minimize the impact of sugary treats on the health of your teeth.
Minimizing the time that those cavity causing bacteria can feast on sugar is an important first step. Although your tummy may not love it, eating a lot of candy at once is better for your teeth than having a little at a time for many days. Also, if you have candy, it is a good idea to clear it from your mouth as quickly as you can, therefore sucking on lollipops for long periods will be worse for your teeth than eating a candy quickly. It is always a good idea after eating any sugary food to rinse out your mouth with water, and when you are done to give your teeth a good brush and floss to clear away any sugar right away.
Fluoride is also a great cavity preventer, when your teeth get weakened on the surface fluoride can penetrate into the tooth enamel and change its chemical structure. The result is enamel that is slightly more resistant to acid, and therefore more resistant to cavities. Unfortunately once the bacteria are through the enamel, fluoride is not of any benefit in those areas. Therefore, using fluoride toothpaste can be a good way to prevent cavities, however it will not cure cavities that have already formed.