While you may be regretting all the Halloween candy you ate this weekend, the findings of a new study may come as comfort. Researchers from Temple University found that the volume of sweets consumed doesn't affect oral health nearly as much as the frequency of consumption.
No oral health expert would ever say that it is acceptable to pig out on sweets. However, the findings indicate that one or two days of overconsumption may not have as great of a long-term impact as previously thought. The real danger is in regular, continuous consumption.
Researchers said that eating sweets and carbohydrates changes the pH balance of the mouth, making it more acidic. This can wear away at oral surfaces, causing cavities, gum disease and bad breath. When sweets are consumed on a regular basis, the mouth is constantly acidic. However, one or two days of this may not result in as much long-term damage.
"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, 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."