Best and Worst Halloween Candies for Your Teeth
With Halloween coming up this week, your household candy stocks are likely to skyrocket. And that’s trouble. Not just for the sugar rushes that will keep kids from sleeping Halloween night (thank goodness it’s on a Saturday this year!), but also for their risk of tooth decay–and yours, if you sneak a few of their treats.
But not all Halloween candies are equally bad for your teeth. Here are a few tips from a family dentist on choosing the best and worst Halloween candies for your teeth.
Although all candy contains damaging sugars for your teeth, and should be eaten in moderation, some treats are particularly hard on your teeth. Anything that causes a prolonged exposure to sugar can be bad.
Caramels in particular are thick and cling to your teeth for a long time, feeding bacteria in specific areas so they can become local acid factories, leading to tooth decay.
Hard candies that you suck on can also be really damaging for your teeth. As long as you’re sucking on these candies, there’s a steady flow of sugar to oral bacteria.
And watch out for sour candies. Some of the really sour candies are highly acidic in themselves and that acidity can erode your teeth.
Of course, the best treats for your teeth are those that are sugar-free. Especially if they’re sweetened with xylitol, which has been shown to suppress the growth and spread of oral bacteria. Sugar-free gum is especially good, because it removes bacteria from your teeth.
Chocolate-covered raisins could also help protect your teeth against decay. Although there’s still candy here, and raisins are sticky, raising have natural compounds in them that attack oral bacteria. (And, incidentally, adults can get the same benefit by drinking a glass of red wine, though maybe through a straw.)
Finally, dark chocolate is a good choice. Not only is it relatively low in sugar, but the antioxidants are good for your general and oral health.
Tips for “Healthy” Ways to Eat Halloween Candy
The way you eat candy also has a big impact on how damaging it is. For the first night, go ahead and let your kids have a candy binge. It’s great fun, and after a short period of time, the oral bacteria become saturated with sugar and it won’t cause too much more damage. When their binge is done, have them drink some milk or rinse their mouth with water, then wait half an hour or so before having them brush their teeth.
After an initial binge, though, kids should eat candy primarily with meals or as dessert. Snacking on candy all day is what really leads to tooth decay. And after they eat candy, have them follow with milk or water and wait before brushing, as above.
If you take a smart approach to Halloween candy, you can dramatically reduce everyone’s need for fillings or other kinds of reconstructive dentistry. But if you’re in need of treatment for tooth decay or just need a checkup, we can help. Please call (303) 759-5652 for an appointment with a Denver dentist at Park Meadows Dental Care.