Halloween is just around the corner, and whether you are sending your own trick-or-treaters out the door, or deciding what to hand out to the ghosts and goblins on your door step, First Choice Dental Group recommends you consider what types of candy will be the least harmful to your teeth.
Dr. Christine Haag, a dentist with First Choice Dental Group's East Madison Office says, "Halloween treats can be enjoyed, but you should monitor and choose certain treats that are better for your teeth than others." She explains, "The bacteria in your mouth feeds on sugar to produce acid which causes tooth decay so it's important to choose treats that will dissolve more quickly, such as chocolate kisses or chocolate candies, rather than sticky, chewy treats, or candy with fillings." She notes, "Chocolate may be high in sugar, but it will dissolve quickly in your mouth, and won't stick to your teeth for a long period of time." She says, "But candies such as candy corn, taffy or caramel are more likely to stick to your teeth, which will cause the bacteria in your mouth to convert the sugar to acid, thereby encouraging tooth decay and cavities." Dr. Haag adds, "It is also important is to consider whether or not your trick-or-treaters have braces. Soft chocolates or peanut buttercups are much better choices than hard or chewy candy or popcorn balls, which can damage braces and prolong treatment."
It is also important to think about when you consume your treats. Dr. Haag suggests eating Halloween candy as a dessert rather than a between-meals-snack because at meal time the saliva in the mouth is already working as a washing agent to remove the food and sugar. Most importantly, she says, "Even after a late night of trick-or-treating or that Halloween bonfire, it's important to keep your good dental hygiene habits, and it's especially important to brush your teeth right before bed!"
Better Treats for Your Teeth
- CHOCOLATE Will dissolve quickly, leaving little time for bacteria to convert sugar to acids, which leads to tooth decay and cavities (good choices are chocolate kisses, peanut butter cups, candy coated chocolates such as m&ms)
- POWDERY CANDY Though full of sugar, this candy also dissolves quickly, leaving less sugar for bacteria to feed on and cause cavities (Sweet Tarts, sugar straws such as Pixy Stix)
Tricky (not so good) Treats for Your Teeth
- CARAMEL Candy with caramel or nougat fillings stick to your teeth and can get caught in the grooves of your teeth. The longer it stays, the better the chance the bacteria has of converting the sugar to acids to cause cavities (candy bars with sticky fillings and nougats)
- CHEWY, STICKY CANDY It's better to eat chocolate that will dissolve quickly rather that sticky or chewy candy that takes longer to eat and sticks to your teeth for longer periods of time (candy corn, caramel, or gummy candies)
- SOUR AND HARD CANDIES Sour candies have higher acid content, which creates a very acidic environment in the mouth, leading to a greater chance of tooth decay; hard candies again take longer to eat and dissolve, so the sugar remains in your mouth for longer periods of time. (Lemon drops, Skittles, Jolly Ranchers and lollipops)