You don’t have to be a kid to love Halloween. It’s low-stress (compared to Thanksgiving or Christmas), you get to wear anything you want, and you even get candy! Who doesn’t like candy?
Even dentists like candy. What we don’t like is the colossal cavity bananza and health problems that can occur from the massive amounts of candy involved. The average trick-or-treater returns home with up to 7,000 calories worth of candy on Halloween night – equivalent to 140 servings of ice cream!
All of the sugar in those treats can play some awful tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful (we won’t even get into the many other health issues from Halloween candy). If you think you like candy, the bacteria in your mouth love candy even more than you do! When bacteria metabolize the sugar in your mouth, an acid is produced that decays teeth.
What can we do as parents to delay a possible dental disaster?
There’s no need to give up on the fun just yet. It’s OK to splurge a little and have some candy now and then. As with many things, moderation is everything. As long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing every day, you’re probably going to be ok.
Regular cleanings and checkups at our Bedford dental practice can keep your family’s oral health in tip-top shape even if you slip in some candy once in a while.
But not all candy is created equal. While you’re “inspecting” your children’s candy (aka finding the Snickers bars), help them make responsible choices about what types and how much candy to eat. The excess can be donated to Operation Gratitude for our country’s service men and women.
To help you sort through the trick-or-treat bag loot, we have a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth.
Dr. White’s Halloween Candy Flossify
Sticky candy like Tootsie Rolls and caramel might taste great, but they are among the worst choices to eat from a dental perspective. They are a sticky mortar that becomes stuck in teeth, and can damage dental work. Limit consumption of sticky candy, and avoid completely if there is undergoing orthodontic work.
Hard candies do double damage. There’s an obvious risk of damaging teeth or dental work when biting through tasty morsels like Jolly Ranchers, but they also present a less obvious danger. Hard candies tend to spend a long time in your mouth, giving your teeth ample time to be completely bathed in sugar and continue feeding cavity-causing bacteria.
While nearly all candy poses some problem for teeth due to sugar content, sour candies take it one step further than others. Sour candy can be very acidic, and is almost as bad for tooth enamel as battery acid! Some of the most popular sour candies happen to also be hard and sticky, making protecting your teeth quite tricky.
Chocolate is the most popular type of candy given out on Halloween. You might be happy to hear that chocolate is one of the better choices for candy. It poses little risk to teeth or dental work and is easily cleaned when your brush. You should also choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Not only does dark chocolate contain less sugar, but it contains certain antioxidants that help prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth.
Vote in Dr. White’s Pumpkin Decorating Contest!
Who will wear the crown in this year’s pumpkin decorating contest? Vote in person or on Facebook!
~Dr. Marea White