The tricks of treats

Yes, even dentists (some of us) eat candy, here’s how to minimize the damage

By Dr. Stephanie McGann, DMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

UTStephCollogoIt’s that time again. The onslaught of orange and black packaging and the mountains of Halloween candy awaiting purchase.   One would think those of us in the dental profession have a vendetta against this sort of thing.  Here’s the inside scoop – every dental office has a back room.  You know, that place where employees keep their lunch, hang up their coats and (wait for it) stash their candy.

Yes, we eat candy, cookies, cakes, desserts and drink soda with sugar. What we also do is brush our teeth at work and throughout the day. We rinse away the residual sugar even when we can’t brush.   Dentists have been encouraged to give out toothbrushes instead of candy to their young friends and neighbors.  

Bah humbug.

There are some simple guidelines that will lessen any damage that that all that candy can cause. Always remember that the sugar from candy is damaging based on the amount of time the teeth are exposed.  My favorite example comes from a roll of smarties.  The teeth suffer less if the whole roll is eaten at one time instead of sucking on one candy at a time over a few hours.  From a dental perspective a Hershey kiss is better than sucking on a dumdum.  The chocolate dissolves and does not linger on the teeth. The sucking of a hard candy can lead to a sugar exposure of 15 minutes or more.

The Guidelines for a Healthy Trick or Treat:

1. Always check through candy brought home by youngsters.  Any suspiciously torn wrapper, open packaging or something homemade from someone you don’t know should be disposed of.

2. Thin the pile by eliminating candy that is not really a favorite.

3. Left-over candy that you meant to give out – get rid of it.

4. Talk to kids about donating stuff they don’t want to food banks or other organizations.

5. Children with braces or other orthodontic appliances should stay away from really sticky chewing things.  That means forget the laffy taffy, tootsie rolls, Swedish fish, dots and the like. Stick to chocolate, and candy that doesn’t linger in the mouth.

6. While most kids never heard of or don’t like “Mary Janes” they inevitably they show up at Halloween and a nostalgic parent has a taste of childhood. These candies are notorious for pulling apart dental work.  If you have crowns, bridges or implants, just say NO.

On a similar theme, the same damage that candy can cause is exaggerated by acidic sodas.  Folks who are all day sippers of colas or other beverages with sugar, the sugar damage can be just as devastating.  Kids aren’t the only ones who still get cavities.

TTTIf you are looking for a way to lessen the temptation and find a place to donate some extra candy, My Glen Mills office has been collecting unwanted leftover candy to send to Pennsylvania service men and women.  The program, called Trick or Treat for Troops is in its sixth year.  Candy dropped off to our office will be part of holiday care packages sent overseas.


Have a healthy and safe Halloween.

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and along with her partner, Dr. Marie Scott, operates The Brandywine Smile Center, a family-friendly dental practice in Concordville. Dr. McGann has opened a new practice in Valley Township, Rainbow Valley Dental. She is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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