As dental professionals, ideally we’d love for our patients to opt for healthy snacks rather than candy this Halloween. However, we know that’s typically not going to be the case. The good news is that it’s possible to fill up your trick-or-treat bag and still be nice to your teeth. Here are just a few of the good guys, along with some you’ll want to avoid so that your scary cavity nightmares won’t become a reality.
Ranked from best for your teeth to worst.
- Sugar-free gum is the best treat this Halloween because it leaves no sticky residue and it is sweetened with xylitol--a natural sugar the bacteria is unable to form plaque on. Furthermore, it 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.
- Chocolate, with no sticky fillings, will generally not stick to your teeth and, therefore, is a much better option if you’re craving something sweet. Dark chocolate is even better, as its antioxidants, according to some studies, can be good for the heart and may even lower blood pressure.
- Sugary snacks, including candy corn, cookies, and cake, all contain high amounts of sugar, which can cause tooth decay. Although it’s a Halloween favorite, candy corn is laden with sugar that produces acid that eats away at your teeth.
- Although they don’t stick to your mouth, hard candy like lollipops and jawbreakers take a long time to dissolve. The longer a food stays in your mouth, the more acidic your mouth becomes. Jawbreakers actually are hard enough to chip your teeth!
- Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down tooth enamel quickly--especially the soft enamel in young children. And while powdery candy, like Pixie Stix, dissolve quickly in the mouth and don’t require chewing, they contain nothing but sugar and can lead to cavities by changing the mouth’s PH and giving bacteria straight sugar to eat.
- Chewy/sticky sweets, such as gummy candies, taffy, caramel, coconut, nuts, and even dried fruit are the worst kinds of candy for teeth because they stick to everything inside of your mouth, including the grooves of your teeth. The longer a food sticks to your teeth, the longer bacteria can feed on it--which could produce cavity-causing acid.
The general rule is that the stickier the candy, the worse it is for your teeth. And if you have the option to go sugar-free, do it! It’ll make us happy the next time you come in for an appointment, and it’ll make your smile happy, too.
What are you putting into the neighborhood trick-or-treat bags? Tell us in the comments!
Don’t forget to join us downtown on Halloween for Redmond’s Festival for the Kids, we’ll be handing out treats in front of the vacant Redmond Athletic Club from 4-6pm!