A Dentist and Cotton Candy

Cotton Candy girl photo
Photo by Paul Schultz

Cotton Candy – Mid-century luxury

This fluffy delicacy was invented by the Italians in the 15th century, and it was only the privilege of the aristocracy during that period. Due to enormously high prices of sugar, at that time, having a portion of spun sugar was considered to be a lavish commodity. It took a considerable amount of time, patience, precision and effort to handcraft this interesting dessert. Served for Easter as a luxurious golden or silver web of sugar, cotton candy (also known as Fairy floss) charmed the royalty and the nobility living in the Renaissance era.

Dentist who liked candies

For over 300 years, the delicious cloud of sugar was out of reach to common people. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that cotton candy became cheap and available to all social classes – all thanks to the machine that was invented by a dentist! Dr. William James Morrison was a creative dentist interested in science, innovation, and originality. He finished studies of dentistry with honors and soon after became the president of the Tennessee State Dental Association. Dr. Morrison patented multiple gadgets including the device which converted cottonseed to lard, as well as the device used for purification of drinking water. Among his numerous inventions, the electric candy machine appears as the most famous and most controversial. In collaboration with John Wharton, who was a confectioner, Dr. Morrison developed the machine which used centrifugal force to spin the melted sugar and create a cloudy dessert, which they called Fairy floss. This invention made the cotton candy available to many kids around the globe. This colorful fluffy dessert is joyously consumed at fairs, circuses, carnivals and amusement parks. But, how healthy is this delicious sugar cloud? Let’s discuss!

Cotton candy and dental health

Today, a lot of people know that sugar is unhealthy, not only for teeth but also for the overall physical well-being. However, only a few are aware of the underlying mechanisms that produce the damage to dental and oral health.


Cavities represent a bacterial infection, induced by a production of acids, which create a hole in the teeth. Without a proper treatment, the infection may progress and cause pain and eventually, loss of teeth. Some bacteria that are found in the oral cavity actually feed on sugar we eat and produce acids that dissolve tooth enamel, which is a shiny, protective, outer layer of the tooth. The oral cavity is constantly being attacked by acids, but the good news is that there are defensive mechanisms which can reverse the damage. Minerals that are contained in the tooth enamel interact with acids and neutralize them. Depleted minerals are replaced through the process called remineralization. Saliva contains minerals including phosphorus and calcium that are used in the remineralization process.

Actions to reduce candy-related tooth damage

If you are not yet ready to reduce your sugary treats, no worries, there are ways to prevent tooth decay. Increasing the flow and amount of saliva can help reduce the negative effects of sugar on dental health. This can be achieved by chewing sugar-free gums immediately after the dessert and introducing high-fiber vegetables into your daily dietary habits. Cheese and yogurt are the products enriched with calcium and phosphates, minerals that are involved in teeth mineralization. Green and black teas contain antibacterial substances that regulate the oral flora and fight the harmful bacteria. Adding a cup of tea each day, preferably without sugar, can help maintain a healthy and balanced oral flora. Furthermore, fluoride is a very important mineral that is involved not only in the prevention of tooth decay, but it can also reverse the process. Therefore, it is quite important to drink plenties of fluoridated water and use the toothpaste which is rich in fluorides. Dental hygiene is the most powerful way to prevent tooth decay. Brushing teeth and flossing twice daily will significantly reduce the risk of dental decay.

Most importantly, schedule visits to your dentist at least twice a year. By performing regular check-ups, fluoride treatments and cleaning, you will have the best shot at winning the battle against tooth decay. Schedule visit now and let us take care of your dental health.

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 2, Suite 221
Austin, Texas, 78746
(512) 452-2273
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