Family Matters

Post-Halloween Dental Advice: Kids Can Gorge on Candy

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If your household is as sugared up as mine is in the aftermath of 90 minutes spent trick-or-treating Sunday night, here’s some unexpected wisdom — from a dentist, no less: Let the kids eat candy, and lots of it, all at once. As long as you’re bingeing on junk, it’s best to bunch the sugar sessions together rather than spread them out, according to Temple University pediatric dentist Mark Helpin. It’s frequency — not quantity — that’s more likely to yield cavities (though both are likely to lead to a chunky child.) (More on Do Parents Discriminate Against Their Own Chubby Children?)

After each Milky Way munched and each miniature box of Nerds crunched, the pH balance in the mouth becomes more acidic, an effect that can take an hour to wear off.  Eating two or three pieces of candy in quick succession — how dreamy! — doesn’t alter the length of time it takes the acidity to dissipate. But instructing your kids to space those three candy bars throughout the day means it’ll take an hour each time for their oral pH to return to normal. (More on ADHD: A Global Epidemic or Just a Bunch of Fidgety Kids?)

“The longer teeth are in an acid environment,” notes Helpin,  the acting chair of pediatric dentistry at Temple’s Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, “the greater the risk they will become decayed.”

“Parents can let kids eat a bunch [of candy] now and a bunch later,” advises Helpin, who acknowledges that occasional sweet treats are essential to a well-lived life. (More on Special Report: Overcoming Obesity)

But still…a dentist smiling on candy consumption? Is he taking new patients?

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