February is the month of love, roses, and boxes of chocolate. We all have our favorite way of enjoying Valentine’s Day’s sweet treats. Dr. Allan Seidman prefers his chocolate frozen solid – which may be why he’s broken a few teeth! Dr. Lara Locker likes buying several boxes of truffles half-priced on February 15th. So how do we make it through this chocolate-filled time of year and cause minimal damage to our teeth? Here are a few Fountainhead Dentistry approved recommendations to make this Valentine’s Day a little more tooth-friendly.
1) Send your loved one a bouquet of flowers, or as a yummier alternative, a bouquet of fruit.
There are a lot of companies (Edible Arrangements, Shari’s berries, and many florists) that make beautiful fruit arrangements. Sugar in candy can be broken down by bacteria in the mouth and can cause cavities. While fruits might taste sugary sweet, they have different sugars that don’t break down as easily as the processed sugar in candy.
2) Don’t eat your candy over a prolonged period of time.
While it might seem smart to savor your fancy chocolate truffles, the longer you take to eat them the worse it is for your teeth. Then the cavity-causing bacteria that thrive on the sugar in candies get a longer time to break down tooth structure with constant fuel. If you’re going to have 3 pieces of candy, it’s better to eat them all at once.
3) Then brush your teeth!
It seems obvious, but after eating those 3 candies, you should brush and floss right away! It will remove those nasty bacteria and help stop cavities from forming. If you’re at work or don’t have a toothbrush available, you can rinse with water. This will help to remove some of the extra sugar in your mouth and give the bacteria less to work with.
4) Are there types of candy that are better than others?
In short, no. The healthy alternative is xylitol candy, which contains a sugar that bacteria can’t use effectively. Otherwise, all candy has sucrose, which feeds the bacteria. Sticky candy, like caramels or gummies, may hang around longer, giving the bacteria even more time to cause damage.
5) Should I do anything special for my kids?
When helping children with their oral hygiene, you should follow the same basic rules as above. It’s important to remember that while kids may still have their baby teeth, the health of their baby teeth can impact the permanent teeth growing underneath. Make sure your kids aren’t eating their candy right before bed, and always help little ones with brushing.