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Halloween Candy: The Aftermath

Halloween has come and gone, and most of you are left with baskets and drawers and bags full of candy.  As you slowly work your way through these piles of candy, our dentists want you to know that this increased sugar intake is bad for your teeth.  The problem is that most of us slowly snack on that candy stash for weeks and weeks, and as soon as it is gone, guess what is next: Christmas candy!

Why is Sugar So Bad for Your Teeth?

Sugar is the nutrient source for the bad bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities.  When you have a high sugar diet, you are feeding these bacteria. When you have a low sugar diet, you are starving them.

Sugar is the fuel that keeps them going.  All sugar is bad for the teeth, including high fructose corn syrup and honey.  Simple carbohydrates like those in chips and cookies and crackers are also easy food for these bacteria.

What Kind of Candy is Worst for Teeth?

Some types of candy are worse than others as far as cavity risk goes. There are several important factors to consider in differentiating between the different types of candy.

  1. Sugar content – As we stated above, all sugar is bad for your teeth. Some candies contain an extremely high amount of sugar, which provides more fuel for the bacteria.
  2. Texture – The texture of a candy has a lot to do with its ability to cause cavities. Candies that are sticky, gummy, or chewy tend to stick to the teeth for an extended period of time.  By sticking to the teeth, they stay in contact with the mouth’s bacteria, providing a more consistent sugar supply.
  3. How the candy is eaten – Simply chewing and eating candy is not horrible for your teeth. Hard candies or lollipops that are held in the mouth for long periods of time cause the same problem as sticky candies: they provide the bad, cavity-causing bacteria with a constant source of fuel.

When sifting through your candy stash, try to avoid the types of candies listed here.  In fact, just throw them away.  You don’t want your kids eating them either!

What Kind of Candy is Best for Your Teeth?

Well, that might be a stretch. No candy is good for your teeth.  But there are some that are less bad.

Obviously, anything that is sugar free would not have such a bad effect on the teeth because it does not feed the bacteria. There are great sugar substitutes these days, like xylitol, which are natural, plant-based products and do not feed the bacteria in your mouth.

Chocolate is by far the least harmful candy for your teeth.  Chocolate contains milk proteins and fat, in addition to the sugar.  Fat and protein are not harmful to the teeth at all!  Eating a chocolate bar is much better for your teeth than a packet of Sour Patch Kids.  The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it contains.

Candy bars are tricky, though.  They often contain fillers of sugary, sticky ingredients like caramel and nougat, that are bad for the teeth.  This would counteract any good effect the fat and protein have.

Chocolate or candy bars with nuts are even better.  There is additional fat and protein in the nuts, which helps offset the high sugar content.

How to Enjoy Candy without Increasing Your Cavity Risk

Make sure that when you up your sugar intake, you are also upping your oral hygiene game.  You can lower your risk for getting cavities from all that Halloween candy by taking great care of you or teeth.

But if you eat more candy every day and slack off with your brushing and flossing, you’re on the train to Cavity Town.

Here are a few tips to keep you on the right track.

  1. Do your very best job at cleaning your teeth at home. Brush after breakfast and before bed.  Floss every single night.  Leaving extra plaque on your teeth means leaving more bacteria around to feed on all that sugar.
  2. Add a fluoride mouth-rinse to your oral hygiene routine. You should use this rinse after brushing and flossing so that it is the last thing on your teeth before going to sleep at night.
  3. After eating candy, rinse your mouth with water to flush away any sugary debris and neutralize the pH of your mouth.
  4. Eat your candy as dessert with a meal instead of a between meal snack. During a meal, saliva production goes up, and cavity risk goes down.  By eating the candy during mealtimes, it is less potent.

If you follow these tips, your Halloween candy won’t wreak havoc on your teeth.

More Questions about Halloween Candy or Anything Else Teeth-Related?

Call today to schedule an exam with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren.  They can assess your unique cavity risk and give you customized tools and recommendations to protect your teeth.

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