Utah dentist not advising against Halloween candy, but encouraging good hygiene

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(ABC4) – As far as natural enemies go, it seems like there could be no greater nemesis to the cause of pillowcases filled with chocolates and sugary candies than those in the dental community.

Dr. Walter Meden of Elite Smiles in Sandy, however, feels his true archrival isn’t the holiday itself, but rather, the dental impact that can surface sometime later after an abundance of sugar and poor brushing and flossing.

“I guess we are the kryptonite for cavities that are created by sweets,” Meden laughs when explaining a dentist’s role in the Halloween scene to ABC4.com.

Cavities, of course, aren’t derived from Krypton and won’t be wearing a brightly colored red and blue costume, although some of the trick-or-treaters who end up with tooth trouble may be wearing a cape on Halloween.

The real culprit of the holes that can develop as part of tooth decay can come from the bacteria produced in the mouth which can create plaque. If plaque is not properly removed from the surface of the tooth, the acid in the substance can dissolve tooth enamel, leading to many larger problems.

Although it may seem logical to assume dentists and well-meaning candy-givers would be pitted against each other in an epic battle for the well-being of Halloween lovers’ mouths, Meden and other dentists aren’t entirely opposed to the occasion.

In fact, MouthHealthy.org, a website backed by the American Dental Association, isn’t dissuading parents from taking the kids trick-or-treating but lays out a plan to mitigate any cavity-causing issues that can arise from Halloween fun.

Among the tips, candy-eaters are advised to drink plenty of water, a recommendation echoed by Meden.

“I always encourage them to use water or mouth wash if they intake any sweets,” Meden says of his advice to patients. “Even if they have brushed their teeth, kids especially should still use water that way. The main thing is so that sugars don’t sit around the teeth in the crevices.”

Since trick-or-treating was discouraged last year during the height of the pandemic, Meden believes it’s possible there may have been fewer cavities this last year than in years’ past. Of course, it’s hard to know this for sure since a good deal of dental patients have chosen to postpone their cleanings and checkups as the pandemic continues to affect the globe.

Even though he may be offering recommendations and guidance to combat tooth decay in his professional capacity, Meden isn’t totally anti-Halloween. In his neighborhood, he hands out candy at the door to trick-or-treaters — with a catch.

“I’m that guy that the kids say ‘He’s the guy that gives us toothbrushes and toothpaste!’ Meden admits. “But I do give them candy as well, so I kind of allow that because they get to enjoy the day. But I do remind them that they need to brush when I give out candy to the kids.”

Practicing proper dental hygiene is good practice all year round, not just around the one day when candy and sweets are given out by everyone in the neighborhood, Meden says.

“You need to brush your teeth regularly against all the sweeteners and the sugars that you have in your mouth,” he states.

Otherwise, the next time you meet Meden, or whoever your dentist is, the visit may not be as pleasant as a bag full of candy.

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