1) How does one get cavities in the first place? What causes them?Cavities are caused by millions of bacteria that are present in the mouth. They become very active when an individual eats certain foods, especially those containing sugar -- processed sugar and natural sugar, such as is present in fruit and fruit drinks. Carbohydrates and starches also cause the bacteria to become active. When bacteria are on the teeth too long, they produce an acid that eats away at the tooth and causes cavities to form. You cannot get rid of these bacteria, which aid in digestion.
2) Do certain candies cause cavities more so than others?Certain candies and foods are more likely to cause cavities, not because of greater sugar content, but because they leave a sticky residue on teeth that makes it easier for the bacteria to attach and have an "acid attack" on the teeth. Candies such as caramels, gummy bears, and even fruit roll-ups, which are marketed as "healthier," fall into this category.
3) Is there any candy out there that is good for teeth?The only candy that is good for teeth is sugarless gum that has Xylitol as an ingredient. Some hard candies also may have Xylitol but probably would also be marketed as helping to prevent decay.
4) What type of oral hygiene are suggested for kids to prevent getting cavities from their Halloween and Christmas candy?One of the most important practices to adapt is regular home care routines. Paying attention to your child’s mouth is the number one suggestion for prevention of decay. Bleeding of the gums usually is a sign that bacteria have been there too long and are causing irritation. Keep after those areas more often until there is no more bleeding after a few days. Brushing after breakfast, and brushing and flossing just before going to bed each day, is adequate to keep the mouth healthy for most kids. A fluoride rinse that is available in supermarkets is a good idea for any child who has had even a single cavity — just follow the directions.
Another suggestion be done to prevent decay is to stay regular on hygiene visits so a dentist can evaluate your teeth every 6 months. Catching cavities when they are little can prevent them from becoming a larger hassle, and in turn, a larger cost.
Another important practice of hygiene is to allow your child to brush his/her own teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush, prior to the parent doing it first; this aids in education and the parent can then follow up to be sure an adequate job was done.Information provided by: Annalisa Harangozo, Annie Lutterman RDH