We all know that eating candy with high amounts of sugar can lead to cavities, but let’s face it, at Halloween kids want to trick-or-treat their way to as much candy as possible even if it’s not great for their pearly whites. We decided to look at the best and worst candy for your teeth as well as how to look after their teeth after eating it.
Best and worst candy at Halloween
Before we identify the best and worst types of candy for your teeth we thought we would explain how candy actually affects your teeth. Your mouth is full of different bacterias that are both good and bad, for example there are bacterias that help with digestion. However there is bacteria called Streptococcus mutans that feeds on sugars & carbohydrates and as a consequence produces teeth eroding acids which lead to cavities. The longer the bacteria is exposed to sugar & carbohydrates the more acids they produce and this essentially decides which candies are good or bad for your teeth. Funny enough the amount of sugar in the candy is actually less important than exposure time although this still has other effects on your health
The best choices: Shorter exposure
As mentioned above when trying to protect teeth from candy, try to minimise exposure time and that is exactly what the following candies do:
Sugar free candy
Take the sugar out of the equation then there’s no risk of feeding the harmful bacterias. There is a common myth that sugar-free candy doesn’t taste good but believe or not there are some yummy sugar free candies out there, don’t believe us, check out a Helicopter Mom’s review of sugar free Werther’s original.
Despite high amounts of Sugar, powdered candy such as sugar straws dissolve quickly in your mouth and therefore minimises exposure to teeth and harmful bacteria
We’re happy to say that chocolate is also relatively good for your teeth! Just like the powdery sugars, chocolate actually rapidly dissolves in your mouth. Look out for chocolate with raisins and nuts as these bits can get stuck in your mouth and have adverse effects.
Think again: Long exposure
Whilst we know it’s hard not to enjoy some of the yummy candies listed below, we would recommend making sure your kids don’t eat too many of them as they’re the ones that will damage your tooth enamel.
Hard candies damage your teeth simply because how long they take to consume. Think lollipops, candy canes and at the worst Everlasting Gobstoppers. Why not try sugar free versions of your favorites?
Chewy Candies are one of the worst for your teeth. They are high in sugar, are difficult for saliva to break down and get stuck in between teeth leading to longer exposure to the sugar. We know, Gummy bears are tasty but eat with caution!
According to Gizmodo, sour candies are as bad for your teeth as battery acid! Whilst we know this is a big statement, they say any candy with a ph of less than 4 will damage your tooth enamel. Famous examples they list are Starburst and Skittles.
Looking after your teeth
Whichever of the candies above decide is their favorite, don’t worry you can make sure the effect of the sugars are combated by having good dental habits. We’ve asked our resident Dental Hygienist Heidi Glastetter, BSDH, MBA, director of dental sales and education for Kolibree for her tips for looking after your children’s teeth this Halloween:
- Minimize the amount of hard “sucking” candies that bathe the mouth in sugar for a long period of time. Sticky, chewy candies also create an environment in the mouth that invites bacteria that cause cavities.
- Brush your teeth within 30 minutes of eating candy. If that’s not possible, drink water to help rinse the sugar from your mouth.
- Choose healthy snacks like apples, or munch on carrots to help remove excess sugar. (Life is short; eat dessert first!)
- Play fun Halloween games like bobbing for apples. Include non-food prizes like glow-bracelets or movie tickets.
- Chew sugarless gum. Studies have shown a slight reduction in plaque with use of sugar-free gum after eating. Studies in Finland show evidence that xylitol, a natural sweetener often derived from birch trees, helps lower the risk for cavities.
- If you are a parent, take care of your own oral hygiene as well as your children’s. Bacteria that cause cavities can be transferred from parent to child when, for example, Mom tastes a food before giving to a toddler, or Dad and child drink from the same beverage cup.
- Brush your teeth for two full minutes, twice a day, which is what most dental professionals recommend. Most people only brush for a minute or less.
- Start the holiday season with a smarter toothbrush