For those of you that just celebrated Easter, we hope you enjoyed a wonderful Easter with your families. And we know that our Jewish friends were also celebrating this past weekend as it was Passover. Again, we hope that your celebrations were also enjoyable.

While both holidays contain a great deal of religious significance, children always have a strong pull toward one thing – the sweet foods. And for Easter, that usually means chocolate Easter Eggs and Bunnies!

And while there are many articles today espousing the anti-oxidizing benefits of dark chocolate, most Easter treats are of the significantly less beneficial, milk chocolate variety. In other words, high in sugar, virtually non-existent in any positive health contributions!

Every year, as parents, we face the same dilemma. We love our children to enjoy a fun and challenging Easter Egg hunt! But we cringe at the thought of what all that chocolate is doing to their teeth! And there is good reason to cringe…a bit!

There is no way to avoid the reality that chocolate is full of sugar, and sugar has long been recognized as one of the major contributors to tooth decay. It is interesting to note that it not the sugar alone that causes the decay. It is the manner in which the sugar works in tandem with the bacteria that is common in our mouths.

The mouth is full of naturally occurring bacteria that can accumulate around the teeth. When it does, it can form a colourless, sticky substance known as plaque. On its own, that plaque is often filled with various micro-organisms that develop an acid which can eat away at the enamel of the teeth, causing decay.

These microorganisms love sugar. The more sugar they have and the longer they have access to it, the more damage they can do to young teeth (and adult teeth for that matter!).

The good news is that, unlike hard candy which sits in a child’s mouth for an extended period of time, chocolate can be consumed rather quickly. That is actually a positive as the longer sugary candy remains in the mouth; the more acid the bacteria can create!

Still, it is important to control the amount of chocolate your child consumes. That means remaining vigilant, because you know your kids are scheming up ways they can sneak more of it into their bedrooms at night! And consuming sugary foods after brushing can leave lots of time for bacteria to work its dark magic!

And brushing is essential as is flossing. Regular brushing can help remove the plaque where those acid-causing micro-organisms live.  But keep in mind that brushing alone is not sufficient. If you do not floss, 30% of the surface area of the teeth will remain unclean! Flossing is just as vital and since most kids cannot do it themselves, you need to help them in order to fully protect their teeth.

The magic of an Easter Egg hunt is never something we would want to deny your children. By all means, some chocolate in moderation is a wonderfully, tasty addition to life. Just make sure that their consumption is in moderation and that good brushing and flossing habits are adhered to! Also, make sure you bring them into to see us at the Rideau Dental Centre on a regular basis so we can monitor their oral health.

For most people, that should be sufficient to protect against decay. Because protecting against decay is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Wayne Perron

 

Dental Surgeon