Trick? Or Treat?
Time for Pumpkins, Costumes,
and Lots and LOTS of Candy.
Did you know that just over 25% of candy purchased in America each year is bought at Halloween? Halloween and candy go hand in hand, but sugary treats can do scary things to your teeth if you aren’t careful. The bacteria in your mouth love sugar – the bacteria eat the sugar and produce acid, which weakens the enamel and causes cavities. But some candies can be scarier than others. So what are the best (and worst) Halloween treats you will find in your trick-or-treat bag?
Good Choice: Plain Chocolate
Chocolate is the most popular kind of candy at Halloween. Chocolate is a better sweet option this Halloween, since it washes away easier than other candy, and is less destructive to enamel. But keep in mind that chocolates with sticky or toffee fillings won’t wash off the teeth as easily as plain chocolate.
Better Choice: Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is the best type of chocolate for oral health. It contains less sugar than milk chocolate and can actually help keep cavities away! That’s because it contains a flavanoid called epicatechin. Epicatechin has shown to slow tooth decay and also reduces cholesterol, blood clots, and clogged arteries. Dark chocolate also contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring chemicals that limit the bad bacteria in your mouth that attack your teeth. The polyphenols in dark chocolate also reduce bad breath!
Bad Choice: Hard Candy
Hard candy is very popular and comes in nearly every flavor and size you can imagine. But be careful with hard candy because if you bite into it, you may break a tooth. But even sucking on hard candy can be damaging to your teeth – it tends to stick around longer than other treats, which exposes teeth to sugar for longer. Extended contact with sugar can lead to more cavities because sugar provides bad bacteria with the energy it needs to destroy enamel.
Bad Choice: Sticky and Gummy Candies
Sticky candy and gummies are some of the worst candies for your teeth. Like hard candy, gummy, taffy, and fruit chews can adhere to the teeth. They also can get stuck in tooth crevices, staying around long after they have been swallowed. They are generally much harder to remove, sometimes even with brushing. This gives cavity-causing bacteria more time to work away at your teeth and creating cavity-friendly conditions.
Bad Choice: Sour Candy
Sour candy can leave teeth susceptible to cavities more so than any other candy. This is because sour candy has added acids to make them sour. The higher acidity can weaken enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities. Sour gummy candy packs a double whammy – they are sticky and acidic.
We know that candy is an important Halloween tradition and trick-or-treating is a big part of the Halloween fun. We would never suggest banning your children from trick-or-treating or being that house on the block handing out toothbrushes and floss (not that we’d be against that). Halloween is a fun and exciting time for everyone – it marks the beginning of the holiday season and is the beginning of the sweet season. It is also a great time to teach children good dental habits, so remember to brush and floss!
Did you know that you can donate sweets to a food bank or find a dentist who participates in the annual Halloween Candy Buy Back program, which donates candy to Operation Gratitude? Happy Halloween!