Halloween and Tooth Decay

Halloween is right around the corner which means kids are excited to see who gets the most and best candy. Unfortunately most children and even some adults do not realize the dental risks they are taking by eating those sugary candies. Your mouth has natural bacteria that feeds on sugar in candies and other foods and turn it into acid. The acids then attack the tooth enamel and cause decay.

“Of course, dentists do not advocate that children eat large amounts of sugary treats, but it is that time of year, so we want to clarify for parents which treats are better for their kids’ teeth and which ones may increase the risk of developing cavities,” says AGD spokesperson Cynthia Sherwood, DDS, FAGD.

Chewy or sticky candies result in sugar being on teeth for longer periods of time. If you chew sticky candies such as taffy or caramel, candy gets stuck on the surface and in between crevices. The longer you leave the sugars on your teeth you more time the bacteria have to feed on the candy and produce acid. The more acid that is produced and the longer the amount of time the teeth are exposed to it, the more chance your child has of developing cavities.

Here are some of the worst and best candies to hand out or allow your children to eat that was put out in a recent article by knowyourteeth.com

The Worst:

  • Chewy/sticky sweets, such as gummy candies, taffy, and even dried fruit can be difficult for children and adults to resist, and even more difficult to remove from teeth. “These candies are a serious source of tooth decay, particularly when they get stuck in the crevices between teeth, making it nearly impossible for saliva to wash them away,” Dr. Sherwood says.
  • Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down tooth enamel quickly. The good news: Saliva slowly helps to restore the natural balance of the acid in the mouth. Dr. Sherwood recommends that patients wait 30 minutes to brush their teeth after consuming sour/acidic candies; otherwise, they will be brushing the acid onto more tooth surfaces and increasing the risk of enamel erosion.
  • Sugary snacks, including candy corn, cookies, and cake, all contain high amounts of sugar, which can cause tooth decay.

The Best:

  • Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies stimulate saliva, which can help prevent dry mouth. “A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities,” Dr.Sherwood says.
  • Sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities as it not only dislodges food particles from between the teeth but also increases saliva—which works to neutralize the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay.
  • Dark chocolate and its antioxidants, according to some studies, can be good for the heart and may even lower blood pressure.

Happy Halloween!