It’s October! Those who know me are aware I’m in all my glory! Halloween is my favorite non-religious holiday! The office is decorated, our yearly “name the witch” contest is underway and on October 31st, we will greet our patients in costume!
So how does this dentist feel about all the Halloween candy? There is no doubt that sugar is bad for our teeth, but there are varying degrees of bad. Let’s sort them out. What actually causes the breakdown of tooth enamel is not sugar but the acid produced by bacteria in our mouths as they consume the sugar.
The worst candies are ones that keep sugar around for a long time:
- Sticky candies like taffy, caramels, jelly beans, etc. stick in the grooves in our back teeth and take longer to dissolve, giving the bacteria more exposure to them.
- Hard candies like lollipops and individually wrapped ones are also loaded with sugar and take longer to dissolve, again providing extended exposure. If we chew them, we risk chipping our teeth.
- Sour candy contains acid! This is a double whammy, as the acid starts damaging the enamel before the bacteria start eating the sugar. Additionally, a lot of these sour candies are also sticky: triple whammy!
Some better options to consider:
- Dark chocolate has less sugar and is loaded with antioxidants! It’s actually good for you!
- Candy bars with nuts can be beneficial as the nuts can scrape tooth surfaces and remove some of those sugary deposits. Of course, if those candy bars also have caramel or other sticky substances, they balance each other out.
- Sugar free candy is always a good option! Xylitol (an artificial sweetener) actually reduces the number of bacteria in your mouth.
There are many options popping up as we become more health conscious. Here are a few I found while doing research for this article. I haven’t tried these so I’m not endorsing, just passing along some info: Zaffi Taffy, Zolli Pops, Get Unreal, Fear Not, Smart Sweets.
I’d like to mention a Halloween topic that is not tooth related but close to my heart! Allergies! The Teal Pumpkin! A great idea I wish had been around when my kids were little! Putting one out lets parents know you have alternatives for kids with allergies! I usually have things like bubbles or bouncy balls, but this year I’ll order some of those candies from above!
Most important things to remember:
- Rinse with water after eating candy!
- Wait 30 minutes before brushing to allow your saliva to neutralize those acids!
- Enjoy! (visit the office for a sugar free, molar shaped lollipop!)