As you take your little ones trick-or-treating this Halloween, spooky porch decorations aren’t the only thing you need to watch out for! If you’re not careful, the sugary Halloween treats they’ll receive can affect the health of their teeth and gums. But not to worry – we’ll tell you which candies are better and worse for your kids’ teeth (and your own!) this season.
3 Tricks to Halloween Treats
It’s always difficult to balance protecting your kids’ oral health and allowing them to enjoy Halloween candy and goodies. However, with moderation and a good selection of the right treats, they can have their cake (or candy bar) and eat it too. Here are three ways to accommodate candy worshippers without compromising on dental hygiene: 1. Have water available. Sipping on water while enjoying sweet treats helps wash away sugars, preventing them from being broken down by the bacteria in your mouth into damaging acids. 2. Brush your teeth after indulging. Within 20 minutes of eating candy, a thin sticky film begins to adhere to teeth. Once you get home from trick-or-treating, have everyone drink some water and then brush their teeth to prevent plaque from developing. 3. Choose the right candy. See below for a list of the best and worst candy for your teeth!
The Best Candy for Your Teeth
While no candy is truly good for your teeth, some are less damaging than others. Here are some of the better options:
- Candy that dissolves quickly, like Sweet Tarts, Pop Rocks, and Pixy Stix. Powdery candies are jam-packed with sugar, but they dissolve quickly and don’t cling to the teeth as much as other kinds.
- Chocolate. Not only is chocolate a favorite among trick-or-treaters, but it also dissolves quickly. However, caramel and other sticky fillings can cling to teeth and leave sugars in the mouth for longer. Chocolates with nougat or malted milk, like 3 Musketeers bars or Whoppers, are a better alternative. Dark chocolate contains the least sugar, so it’s the best option of all.
- Cakes and cookies. They may not be found on your trick-or-treating route, but if you go to a Halloween party, reach for cakes and cookies rather than chewy caramels. They’re usually less sticky and less likely to remain in the mouth than chewy candies.
The Worst Candy for Your Teeth
- Hard candy. Hard candies are undoubtedly the toughest on teeth. They tend to remain in the mouth for prolonged periods of time, coating your teeth with sugar. When you crunch them, they can chip or crack teeth, and at the very least, crunching on them can trap bits in the grinding surfaces of your molars.
- Chewy candy. Chewy Halloween treats may appear harmless, but are particularly damaging because the candy can adhere to teeth and stay in the mouth for hours, making it more difficult for saliva wash away the sugar.
- Lollipops and suckers. Like hard candies, suckers stay in your mouth for a long time and slowly release sugar. Even though they may not stick to teeth, they ultimately expose your teeth to sugars and the acids that are produced when bacteria break down the sugars for a longer period. And of course, many people like to crunch them up!
Because the bacteria in your mouth break down sugars into harmful acids, reducing the amount of time sugar remains in your mouth can greatly diminish your risk of tooth decay. While adults may be aware of these risks, kids are usually not, and be sure to monitor the amount of candy they consume and ensure that they’re brushing thoroughly afterwards. However, Halloween is not the only time of year that parents should focus on dental hygiene! No matter the season, kids need to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day and floss once a day when they’re old enough. Brushing before bedtime is particularly important; otherwise, sugars remain in the teeth all night, increasing the risk of decay. If you’d like to receive updates from My Family Dentistry, information and tips about dental care, promotions, and more, subscribe to our email newsletter. We’d love to hear from you! Keep in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+.