Submitted by Jeff Reynolds, DMD.
With Halloween approaching many of us – whether a parent or someone planning what to give out at your home to neighborhood trick-or-treaters – are wondering about the impact of candy on young teeth, and if there are some candies that are better than others.
The fact is that all Halloween candy is a trick, not a treat for your teeth, as sugars and fermentable carbohydrates found in candy work with bacteria to begin the decay process and eventually destroy teeth. Frequency of consumption, however, may be more important than the actual amount of candy eaten, meaning that the longer and more frequently teeth are in contact with sugars and fermentable carbohydrates, the greater the risk is for decay.
The truth is that most kids like candy and Halloween is the time to stock up. The question then becomes, “Are some candies better than others for your teeth?” Let’s investigate.
Halloween Candy That’s Worse for Your Teeth
The stickier the candy, the worse it is for your teeth. The high concentration of sugar and the increased exposure time because of stickiness increases the chances of tooth decay.
Sucking on lollipops increases the duration of exposure to sugars which is more harmful than eating your candy quickly and then brushing and flossing your teeth.
Sour candies are bad for your teeth because they’re the most acidic. Acid wears down your enamel which protects your teeth. A lack of enamel can expose the nerves in the teeth which leads to sensitivity to changes in temperature.
Halloween Candy That’s Better for Your Teeth
Dark Chocolate is by far the best candy for your teeth. New studies show that dark chocolate is effective at fighting cavities. They contain chemicals (polyphenols and antioxidants) that limit oral bacteria and fight periodontal disease. Some studies suggest that it might be better than fluoride at fighting tooth decay.
Sugar Free Candy
Candy that contains stevia may be healthier for your teeth. Since sugar feeds bacteria and upsets the healthy balance of acidity to increase the chances of decay, it stands to reason that eating sugarless candy is better for your teeth.
Candy with Nuts
Nuts in candy can help reduce stickiness and it’s the stickiness that increases your chances of getting cavities. Nuts can also help break up some of the bacterial biofilm – or community of bacteria – on your teeth. Naturally, you should choose candy with nuts that is also low in sugar.
So when the children drop by your house dressed in their favorite superhero and princess costumes and shout, “trick or treat”, you can now give them a healthier treat for their teeth.
For more tips on how to have a smile-friendly Halloween, Delta Dental of Washington has a variety of information and resources – visit www.deltadentalwa.com/blog.
Jeff Reynolds, DMD is Delta Dental member dentist and serves as the Dental Care & Dental Director for Community Health Care (www.commhealth.org).Print This Post