Submitted by Jeff Reynolds, DMD Delta Dental.
With October upon us, so too is the favorite holiday of everyone with a sweet tooth – Halloween. Getting kids to resist candy during this time can be out of the question for many, and with so many tricky treats out there, here are some sweet tips for identifying the worst – and best – choices in the trick-or-treat bag to help protect young teeth.
Whether you’re selecting candy to hand out, or you’re a parent who’s inspecting your child’s Halloween haul, here are the candies that should be avoided:
- Sour Candies: Sour candies contain large amounts of acid to provide that signature pucker, but that acid can erode the enamel on your teeth, permanently affect their coloring and natural resistance to tooth decay and contribute to sensitivity. These candies are often also high in sugar. If you eat sour candy, you should wait 30 minutes before brushing for your saliva to help neutralize acids, and to prevent further damage to tooth enamel.
- Sticky Candies: Gummy candies pose a different threat than sour candies – sticky candies are more difficult to remove from the teeth. Along with larger pieces of candy, a thin layer can coat the teeth and resist brushing. This gives bacteria more time to cause tooth decay and should be avoided if possible.
- Hard Candies: Hard candy is also a poor choice on Halloween. They can take a long time to dissolve in your mouth and children run the risk of cracking a tooth – some even carry a warning saying just that. These high-sugar candies provide the bacteria in your mouth with access to highly concentrated sugar levels which can quickly decay your teeth and if chewed can damage braces. Such candies should be eaten sparingly and followed by a glass of water and tooth brushing.
While candy in general is not good for teeth, when consumed in moderation these candies offer a better choice:
- Dark Chocolate: Chocolate without fillings might be many parents’ best option. When compared to other candies, chocolate is often the lesser of many evils – dark chocolate has far less sugar than most other candies and can be brushed off the teeth more easily.
- Sugar-free Candy: The best candy choice by far for your kids are the sugar-free options such as sugar-free gum or lollipops. These have a sweet taste and encourage saliva production, while being far less harmful for kids’ smiles.
Kids (and parents) need to know what they’re eating on Halloween to best prevent tooth decay. The easiest way to do this is to prioritize proper dental care and ensure you and your child are making informed decisions.
Following sugary candy with a period of rest and a glass of water before brushing and flossing can help you do the most to protect your child’s teeth. Staying up to date on dentist visits – especially during the holidays – can ensure your children’s teeth are healthy. Ask your dentist for tips and inquire if they have a candy “buy back” program to sweeten the deal.
For additional information about how a child’s diet can affect their oral – and overall – health, visit Delta Dental of Washington’s blog.
Jeff Reynolds, DMD is a Delta Dental of Washington member dentist and serves as the Dental Care & Dental Director for Community Health Care.