What Are the Worst Halloween Candies for Our Teeth?
The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that harmful oral bacteria love to eat it. They then excrete acid as a waste product, and even though tooth enamel is a very hard substance, it is highly vulnerable to acid erosion. This is why sour, sticky, and hard candies are so bad for our teeth.
Hard candy takes time to dissolve, bathing our teeth in sugar. Sticky candy brings all that sugar directly to the bacteria on the surface of our teeth and gums. Sour candy cuts out the middleman because it’s already acidic!
The Good News: Chocolate and Xylitol
If you’re worried that we just eliminated most of the contents of your Halloween bag, you’ll be happy to know that certain types of chocolate can be pretty good for our teeth. Chocolate contains compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols, which slow tooth decay, limit oral bacteria, and fight bad breath.
The catch is that the more sugar chocolate contains, the less those healthy compounds matter, which is why dentists prefer dark chocolate. It’s even better if it contains nuts (unless you have an orthodontic appliance or a nut allergy).
Anything sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar is also much better for your teeth. Not only is this sugar-free sweetener inedible to harmful bacteria, it actually hurts them! The trouble is that there aren’t many xylitol options for the candy bowls besides sugar-free gum, but hopefully that will change before too many more Halloweens.
Protecting Your Teeth From the Effects of Sugar
We aren’t here to tell our patients to quit all sugar immediately, but there are still ways those of us with a strong sweet tooth can fight back against what sugar can do to our teeth:
Restrict candy consumption to mealtimes instead of snacking on it between meals. This will give your saliva a chance to neutralize your oral pH and wash away traces of sugar.
Drink water after eating candy to rinse off some of the sugar.
The Dentist Is a Fantastic Resource
You aren’t alone in the fight to keep your teeth healthy; the dentist is on your side! That’s why it’s so important to schedule regular dental exams. If you haven’t already, schedule a dentist appointment right after Halloween because it is a great time to start!
We wish all our patients a spooky, healthy Halloween!