The holiday that most fervently celebrates the consuming of mass amounts of candy is just around the corner. For children (and many grownups), Halloween is a much-anticipated excuse to binge on cavity-causing treats.
But did you know that not all candy is created equally when it comes to your teeth?
Yep, some varieties are truly frightening while some others are not quite as scary. As All Hallows’ Eve approaches, use our recommendations to help keep yourself and your little ones away from the most harmful treats while opting for the ones that do less damage.
1. Chewy Treats
The very worst offender of them all is the gummy or chewy treats that are often among people’s favorites: gummy bears, taffy, caramel and candy corn for example. This type of candy is sure to get stuck in all the little crevices of your teeth and stay put for a lot longer than other foods.
Because of their sticky quality, even a good dose of saliva doesn’t wash them away. And the longer sugary particles stay in your teeth, the longer bacteria have to feed on them, which produces acid that eventually results in cavities.
2. Sour Sweets
Another confectionary offender is candies of the sour variety. The ingredients that cause that mouth-puckering taste have a high acidic content, which weakens and breaks down tooth enamel. Because of that, if you do indulge in a sour treat, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing or you risk brushing away tooth enamel.
3. Hard Candy
Though hard candies and lollipops do stimulate saliva production, which is a good thing, they also do lots of damage. First off, sucking on a piece of candy or a sucker over a several minutes is essentially equivalent to eating new pieces of candy constantly over that same period of time. And if you go the route of chomping instead of sucking, you could risk cracking or chipping a tooth on something like a jawbreaker.
The Not So Bad
1. Dark Chocolate
Good news for chocoholics – chocolate, especially the dark variety, isn’t nearly as bad for teeth as all other types of candy. Not only does it melt and go down quickly, but dark chocolate also contains far less sugar than most other candy and won’t stick to your teeth.
2. Sugar-Free Candy
The very best you can do is to steer towards sugar free candy and gum sweetened with xylitol, which doesn’t let plaque form. Furthermore, sugar-free gum and hard candy helps stimulate saliva production and saliva washes away bacteria and neutralizes acid, helping to stave off decay and cavities.
We know that it’s nearly impossible to avoid all sweet treats around the final days of October, but as the Halloween treats start to surround you, keep in mind that some choices are healthier than others.