Stop Zombie Mouth: Halloween Advice to Help Prevent Tooth Decay

October 31, 2012 10:10:57 AM PDT
Children will enjoy trick or treating and the bounty of candy they'll collect on Halloween. Dentists say parents should make sure their children eat the candy responsibly to avoid getting ''Zombie Mouth.''

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Over 16 million US Children have untreated tooth decay. Dr. Mary Hayes with the American Dental Association has some suggestions to enjoy a healthier Halloween. The ADA and PopCaps Games have teamed up to "Stop Zombie Mouth" using the popular video game Plants vs. Zombies to encourage kids to practice good oral health and to eat Halloween candy responsibly.

1. Eat candy and sugary foods with meals. Saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize acids produced by bacteria in your mouth, and helps rinse away food particles.

2. Avoid hard candy. Unless it's a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long time subject teeth to prolonged acid attack, increasing the risk for tooth decay.

3. Avoid sticky candies. Stickier candies like taffy and gummy bears take longer to get washed away, increasing the risk for tooth decay.

4. Drink more water. Optimally fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, check the label for the fluoride content.

5. Eat a well-balanced diet. Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you "fill up" affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.

6. Avoid sugary beverages. When teeth come in frequent contact with sugary beverages, like soda, sports drinks and flavored waters, the risk of tooth decay is increased.

7. Chew sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals can reduce tooth decay. Increased saliva helps wash away food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria. Look for gum with the ADA Seal.

8. Brush 2x2. Brush your teeth for two minutes a day, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

9. Floss daily. Decay-causing bacteria linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

10. Visit your dentist regularly. Professional cleanings and oral examinations are important.