It’s Halloween time in Columbus Ohio and the Grandview Dental Care staff and I get many questions about the effect all the yummy candy has on your teeth. As a dentist if I tell you that candy is fine and you should eat all you want they will take my license away (probably not, but you can’t be too careful!) I think I’m also obligated to say that eating no candy is the best way to avoid tooth decay. I’m sure everyone reading this will take this advice to heart and abstain from any holiday candy eating.
After you pick yourself off the floor from laughing at the absurdity of going cold-turkey on candy, I will give you some reasonable candy vs. teeth advice.
The problem with candy or any tooth decay causing substance (soda, crackers, spoonfuls of sugar) is usually more about frequency rather than amount. Eating a bag of candy in one sitting and then brushing your teeth is better than eating a piece of candy every few minutes all day. I’m not advocating the bag of candy diet, mind you, but just illustrating a point. Candy has sugar that bacteria in your mouth love to make into acid that eats away at your enamel. If the bacteria are constantly fed they constantly produce acid. Acid all day is much worse than acid for a bit.
Some types of candy are worse than others. Anything sticky or crunchy that sticks in your teeth (Caramel, gummy things, Skittles, Butterfinger) will be around longer to feed those bacteria. Anything sour or citrus flavored is bad because acidic ingredients are used to give them those flavors. Acid ingredients+sugar=very efficient decay production. Also, suckers and anything that dissolves in your mouth is bad due to the time it will be in the mouth.
If I was to pick the least harmful candy it would be straight chocolate with dark chocolate being even better due to the lower sugar. Chocolate with nuts can be good too because you can say to yourself that you are getting some protein out of the deal. At least that’s what I tell myself.
The most important thing is to brush your teeth after any candy eating. If you aren’t near your toothbrush chewing sugar-free gum is the next best thing. You need to wash away that acid and anything that will get your saliva going will help.
I hope I have helped you navigate the candy season with healthier mouths. Good luck and Happy Halloween!