As Halloween begins to creep closer it is important to understand what all of the candy you get can do to your teeth. Saturday morning (10-23-21) I had the chance to visit the local dentist in downtown Cloverdale and interview Dr. Scott Armitage.

Dr. Armitage attended the University of Illinois in Chicago, IL, where he received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) in 1980. He then completed a residency in Cleveland, OH, moved to Cloverdale, and started practicing at his current location in 1982.  

While it is fun to trick or treat the night of Halloween and eat all of the candy you can, it may not be the best thing for your teeth. When asked what candy does to your teeth, Dr. Armitage said that candy can cause cavities, weaken the enamel, and lead to the buildup of plaque.

“Decay is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth. The mouth is kind of dark, it’s the ideal temperature, it’s moist, and it gets fed three times a day.”

So, the mouth is an ideal place for bacteria to grow. When bacteria grow “their waste product is acid. The acid dissolves the enamel” and the “bacteria follow that dissolving pattern and eventually get to the nerve of the tooth, and then it starts talking to you and we have problems.” 

Dr. Armitage also mentioned some ways to help prevent cavities and keep your teeth healthy.

  1. BrushingHe said that the best way to keep the amount of bacteria in your mouth down is still mechanically, with a toothbrush. Dr. Armitage and many other dentists say you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes each time you brush.
  2. Plaque TabletsSomething he recommends to some of his patients is to use plaque disclosing tablets. These will dye the plaque a bright purple color to allow you to see where you’ve missed with a toothbrush.
  3. FlossingHe went on to say that “flossing is good. [Flossing] tends to get in between [your teeth] – especially in between the back teeth. A brush can’t get all the way into there, but floss can.”
  4. Floss PicksBecause it can be difficult to get a regular piece of floss into those hard to reach areas, Dr. Armitage recommends using a flosser, or floss pick, which allows you to get into the hard to reach areas a lot easier.
  5. Water PicksHe says that if you have braces, a water pick is a good alternative to floss. On top of brushing your teeth and flossing, Dr. Armitage mentioned using a fluoride rinse to harden the enamel. 

Dr. Armitage knows that kids will inevitably eat candy, so he explained some healthier options. He recommends sugar free candy. Most sugar free chewing gum now has xylitol, which is a sugar substitute, and he says that it has been shown to reduce cavities. He also said that xylitol “not only doesn’t give food to the bacteria,” but “seems to reduce the decay rate” as well.