It’s that time of year – Halloween is just around the corner. As a parent or as someone giving out candy, what do you need to know?
Candy Harmful To Teeth
We’re not sure that there’s such a thing as candy that’s good for your teeth. Why? Because sugar in candy interacts with bacteria normally present in your mouth to produce an acid byproduct. This byproduct can weaken a tooth’s enamel, the hard protective covering surrounding the tooth. When enamel is damaged, cavities can start to form. That said, some candies are definitely worse for your teeth than others. They include:
- Sticky or Chewy Candy. These include candies such as taffy or caramel, which tend to stick to your teeth. The longer candy stays on your teeth, the longer the acid byproducts have to wear away tooth enamel.
- Sour or Acidic Candy. These include candies specifically labeled as “sour” and also an old favorite, lemon drops. Because these candies are both acidic and sugary, you get a double whammy effect. They also tend to be candies that are in the mouth for extended periods of time as they dissolve, thus bathing the teeth in sugar.
- Hard Candy. Years ago, a patient had a Jolly Rancher in his mouth, bit down, and when he opened his mouth, the candy stuck to his crown and pulled it off. Just this week, a new patient came to our office because he bit down on a piece of candy and broke off a piece of his tooth. (This tooth had filling in it, meaning it was already compromised.) Similar to the sour or acidic candies, many hard candies are meant to be slowly dissolved in your mouth over a period of time, thus giving the sugar more time to bath the teeth, interact with bacteria, and produce acid that is harmful to the teeth.
- Pop Corn Balls. Who hasn’t eaten a popcorn ball and had part of it stuck in their teeth? And, they are sugar filled and sticky.
Better Candy Options
There is some good news regarding Halloween candy. Chocolate is actually a good choice because it dissolves from your teeth pretty quickly. Dark chocolate is better than lighter chocolates as it contains less sugar.
Do You Need To Avoid Halloween Candy?
No. Halloween is a fun holiday for kids and families. When your kids come home with those bags of candy, though, make sure they are practicing good oral health. In other words, make sure they brush and floss before they go to bed. For additional information, see “Halloween Candy: Your Dental Health Survival Guide” at Mouth Healthy, a website maintained by the American Dental Association (ADA), and a Reader’s Digest article titled “Top 5 Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth, According to Dentists.”