The Candy/Cavity Connection

The Candy/Cavity Connection

Apr 15, 2014

Easter is coming up, and that means store shelves are stocked with chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and Peeps. Take a look at these Easter candy statistics:

  • Americans spend $2.1 billion a year purchasing Easter candy – an average of $28.11 per household.
  • 120 million pounds of Easter candy is purchased annually, including 90 million chocolate bunnies and 16 million jellybeans.

What does all of this candy have in common? It’s filled with sugar!

Sugar and Your Teeth

When you eat foods with sugar, including the delicious candy that appears every Easter, it triggers a reaction from the plaque in your mouth. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that feed on the sugar and attack your tooth enamel. Plaque is very sticky and keeps the acids in contact with your teeth. The enamel will eventually break down, forming holes in your teeth called cavities.

Cavities affect both children and adults. Children tend to get cavities from improper brushing. Adults are more susceptible to tooth decay because of changes that occur to their teeth as they get older. Gums naturally begin to recess away from the teeth, which exposes tooth roots to plaque. Those roots are covered with cementum, a softer tissue which decays more quickly than enamel. In addition, adults usually have more fillings than children. As fillings weaken over time, bacteria can get inside and cause cavities.

Keeping Teeth Healthy

Of course, it is impossible to avoid sugar completely. And Easter treats are fine in moderation. The key to keeping your teeth healthy is removing the sugar from your teeth before decay can occur. Here are some ways to decrease the chances that you will get cavities:

Use a toothpaste containing fluoride. Fluoride stops tooth decay from getting worse. It replaces lost minerals and prevents future mineral loss in tooth enamel. It also reduces the ability of bacteria to make acid. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Sometimes the dentist will prescribe a fluoride gel for you to apply to your teeth after brushing.

Floss daily. Flossing removes plaque and debris from between teeth. There are also other interdental cleaners that give you more control. Children need to floss too, although you will probably need to do it for them until they have the dexterity to do it themselves (around age 10). When you first begin a flossing regimen you may notice bleeding, but that should stop within a couple of weeks.

Consider sealants. Your dentist may suggest dental sealants for your child’s teeth. Decay often begins on chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Sealants are a plastic protective coating that prevents tooth decay on those teeth.

See a dentist regularly. Every six months you should have your teeth professionally cleaned to remove plaque that you missed with brushing. Then the dentist will give you a thorough examination to identify areas of concern before a larger problem develops. Your dentist will look for signs of decay and gum disease, and check your restorations.

You can still enjoy Easter treats. Just remember to clean your teeth afterwards. By the way, 76 percent of Americans say chocolate bunnies should be eaten ears first!

Source: Internet Retailer, Barna Group, National Retail Federation,

National Confectioner’s Association

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