A Few Pieces of Candy May Not Hurt Your Teeth

It all starts with Halloween each year and extends to around the Easter holiday. Little wonderful candy treats are all around us and given freely. The stores are packed full of them with themed wrapping for whatever holiday might be near: chocolate shaped Christmas trees, Valentine's hearts or Cadbury cream eggs. But isn't all of this sugar-packed candy bad for us? Won't it do some serious damage to our teeth?

Researchers from Temple University found that the volume of sweets consumed doesn't affect oral health nearly as much as how often you eat them. Now that's not to say that eating every candy in sight for just one or two days is a good thing, but it isn't nearly as bad as habitual candy eating.

"If I eat a piece of candy now, the pH in my mouth will become acidic, and it will take 30 to 60 minutes for it to become normal," said Mark Helpin, an associate professor of pediatric dentistry, who led the study. "If I eat two or three pieces of candy when I eat that first one, my mouth stays acid the same length of time. If I keep eating candy throughout the day, there is acid in my mouth for a much longer period of time," he continued. So, according to Helpin, popping a few pieces of candy now and then won't do much damage to your teeth and mouth.

According to researchers, eating sweets and carbohydrates changes pH balance of your mouth, making it more acidic. When sweets are eaten constantly, the acidic nature of your mouth will eventually wear away at oral surfaces. This will cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath.

What does this mean to you? If you are regularly taking good care of your teeth and gums and happen to pass by the candy tray at work or your kids bring home candy from school, and you feel the urge to indulge in one, it's okay to have one or two pieces -- just don't let it become a regular thing. Your oral health will bounce back quickly if it's just a once-in-a-while treat for yourself.

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