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Halloween brings out the dangers of sour acid candy

Many people are making changes to their traditional Halloween celebrations to make the holiday safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly.

For those parents and neighbors who like to hand out pencils, pretzels or little toys instead of candy, local hygienist Erika Feltham is giving them another reason besides cutting down on sugar.

For Feltham, tooth decay is not the only negative outcome of the annual Halloween candy overload. She has been spreading the word about the irreversible damage being done by sour acid candy for more than 11 years.

“Slowly but surely, recognition, concern and education is growing about the destructive effects from this candy,” she said, adding that “awareness is powerful in prevention.”

Last year, the California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA) warned parents that the sour acid ingredients in many candies today contain “acid levels so high that it approaches the ph level of battery acid.”

The popular sour candies combine sweet and sour ingredients that together can destroy the enamel on children’s as well as adults’ teeth.

The high acid content of these candies can destroy the enamel of teeth, which are then directly exposed to the sugar.

If someone then washes the candy down with sodas, sports drinks or energy/power drinks, that person’s teeth are getting hit with another blast of acid and sugar.

There is a growing awareness of this problem in the dental industry according to Feltham, who said that erosion wear (on teeth) is so big in this country that toothpaste companies are now taking an interest in it.

One company sponsored a gathering of international dental experts in Chicago earlier this year to talk about the growing problem of erosive tooth wear, what causes it, when it is diagnosed and how dental professionals can help counteract the problem.

They agreed that cases of dental erosion are not only increasing but also occurring in people with excellent oral hygiene.

Feltham said, “I have seen decalcification in otherwise immaculate mouths.”

One of the causes of the erosion is frequent and excessive eating of sour acid fruit-flavored candy, citrus fruit, carbonated drinks, salad dressings, wine and cider.

Most patients do not know they have erosive tooth wear until they are experiencing pain and the erosion is severe. This is why it is important to make people aware of the problem so they can protect their teeth.

Dental professionals are advising their patients to limit how often they consume acidic food or drinks to prevent erosive wear and permanent damage to their teeth.

They should also avoid brushing their teeth right after eating or drinking anything with acid in it, as a toothbrush can rub off the enamel softened by the acid. (Rinsing with water after eating or drinking those items will dilute the acid and help protect teeth.)

For Feltham, Halloween is a good time to remind everyone to limit how much sour acid candy they are eating and how much soda or energy drinks they are drinking.

This especially applies to children, whose young teeth are more susceptible to damage from acid.

She advises parents to check their children’s trick-or-treat bags for this destructive candy and replace it with non-sour sugarless candy or gum.

Some of the information in this article was provided by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.


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