As Halloween approaches, and kids (some adults, too!) get excited about dressing up and scoring a major candy haul, you may wonder if it’s possible to find the balance between enjoying a few sweet treats or causing a fright fest at your next dental visit.
While any sugary treat isn’t the best for your teeth, our team at Couture Smiles Dental Group want you to have fun and enjoy the spooktacular confections of All Hallow’s Eve. We’ve put together a list of the best and worst Halloween treats for your teeth, so you can use it as a guide to avoid a scary situation when you come in to see us.
What’s worse: Chocolate or chewy-gooey?
You may be surprised to learn that chocolate is one of the best treats to enjoy after trick-or-treating, but chewy-gooey candies that stick to your teeth aren’t so good. Chocolate rinses off your tooth enamel more easily than gummies, caramels, and taffy that stick to your teeth and gunk up the cracks and crevices.
The longer sugary treats hang around on your teeth, the easier it is for bacteria to have a Halloween feast of their own. When bacteria eat the leftover sugar in your mouth, it produces an acid that leads to tooth decay and cavities.
And, when it comes to braces, bridges, and other dental work, sticky candy is the worst offender. These treats can cause some serious damage and lead to costly repairs or replacements if you’re not extra careful. If you have a choice, choose plain chocolate, and dark chocolate is best since it’s lower in sugar.
Sour sounds better than sweet, doesn’t it?
Sour may sound like a healthier candy option than something sweet, but it isn’t. It may be confusing to learn that sour candies can do more harm to your teeth than sugary ones because sour candy is often very acidic, and that contributes to the acidic environment in your mouth.
If you don’t brush and floss right after you eat sour candies, the acidity lingers and can potentially weaken tooth enamel, making the potential for cavities into a frightening reality. Of course, all sweet treats leave a sugary residue that bacteria like to consume, but sour candies have both sugar and acid, so they may actually accelerate the process.
Do your teeth a favor and skip the sour and citrus-flavored candies.
Little goblins should be terrified of lollipops and jawbreakers
First of all, any candy that’s called a “jawbreaker” can’t be good for your teeth or your jaw – especially if you have TMJ syndrome and your jaw clicks and pops when you chew regular food. Biting down on candy that’s as hard as a glass marble can easily chip your teeth or dislodge a loose filling.
Additionally, any kind of candy that takes a long time to dissolve, such as lollipops, jawbreakers, or sour balls, allow the bacteria in your mouth to feast on sugar. Which, as you now know, turns into acid that may lead to cavities. It’s a good idea to avoid hard candies and lollipops so little goblins can keep their natural teeth their entire lifetimes.
Popcorn balls vs. chocolate bars with nuts
You’ve always heard that popcorn is a healthy snack, so why wouldn’t popcorn balls be a healthy Halloween treat? Two reasons:
Sure, everyone loves to enjoy a bowl of popcorn, and as far as candy goes, popcorn is a healthier alternative – as long as you have dental floss handy. But when it’s a ball of popcorn glazed in sugar, you’re asking for trouble any way you crunch it.
Not only are you eating a treat that gets stuck between your teeth, but you’re also helping it stay on your teeth by providing the sticky, gooey, coating.
Chocolate bars with nuts (if you and your favorite friendly ghost aren’t allergic) are a better choice since as you learned, chocolate easily rinses off your teeth. And, when you add nuts into the mix, they actually help break up the sugary qualities of the chocolate, so you’re not just biting into a solid chunk of sugar.
Gum is good for Halloween
Perhaps the least damaging Halloween treat is sugar-free gum. You don’t often hear of dentists recommend that their patients chew gum, but when it comes to Halloween treats and all the other candy your kids want to enjoy, sugar-free gum can actually help protect their teeth.
The act of chewing a piece of gum gets the saliva flowing in your mouth so it can actually help to “rinse” the sugary substances away from teeth. Saliva also neutralizes the acid that sugary goodies leave behind, so bacteria have less of a chance to create the plaque that leads to cavities.
This year, as you sort through the loot at the end of the evening, set aside the scarier pieces of candy and choose the ones that don’t cast a lasting spell. Then be sure to schedule a professional dental cleaning by calling our office in Woodland Hills, California. Or if you’re up late at night keeping the vampires at bay, just book your appointment online.