You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate a fun Halloween in Boise. It’s festive, you get to wear costumes, and there’s even candy! Even dentists like candy.
What dentists don’t like are the problems that can result from the cascade of candy following Halloween. 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! If they try, kids can end up with apocalyptic hoards of candy that is gradually consumed over the following months.
That sugar stockpile can play some awful tricks on teeth, in addition to all the other health issues that can arise from high amounts of sugar consumption. Bacteria in the mouth metabolize that sugar left from the candy, creating acid as a byproduct. The acid then breaks down tooth enamel, causing cavities.
Does this mean that we have to give up on candy forever? Not so fast.
As with most things, moderation is key. Limiting the frequency and duration of sugar exposure while maintaining oral hygiene means that the occasional candy splurge should be OK.
Regular cleanings and checkups at our Boise dental practice can keep your family’s oral health in tip-top shape, even if you let loose on some Halloween candy.
But not all candy is created equal. 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. Royce’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.
Candy Bars (with nuts)
Regular candy bars aren’t the best things for your teeth, and depending upon their ingredients, can be very sticky and damaging to teeth. This is why you should look for candy bars that have a lot of nuts in them: the nuts break up the sticky consistency, and leave sugar on teeth for far less time than candy bars without nuts. We like the KIND Bar with Almonds and Macadamia nuts as a tooth-friendly sweet treat. Just remember to have our kids brush their teeth after consuming them, because debris can get left in their mouth afterwards.
Sugar-free candy or candy made with xylitol completely removes the cavity-causing concerns that parents fear. Moreover, xylitol has been shown to have anti-cavity benefits! Sugar-free and xylitol options are often available online or in grocery or health food stores.
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