Kids might love everything about Halloween, but for dentists, the thing kids love most about the holiday is scarier than any horror movie: a bag filled to the brim with tooth-rotting candy.
That doesn’t mean parents should ban trick-or-treating or confiscate their kid’s haul. Not all candy is equally bad for teeth, and some candy—like dark chocolate—actually has health benefits that mitigate the high-calorie count. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s some candy that just isn’t worth the few moments of deliciousness. Here are the kinds of candy that are the worst for your teeth:
Gummy worms are a Halloween staple, but they’re also a serious source of tooth decay when chewy bits get stuck between teeth in places saliva can’t reach. The longer candy or any sort of food sticks to your teeth, the longer bacteria can feed on it, producing acids that lead to cavities. Aside from gummy worms and their bear cousins, here are some other chewy treats to avoid if you can:
Mike & Ike’s
Dentists usually lump sticky and chewy candy in the same category, but they’re quick to point out that stickiness is worse than plain chewiness because, of course, it’s stickier! If your saliva has a hard time with gummy bear bits, it won’t make a dent in any candy with caramel, which not only sticks in crevices, but also coats the grooves of your teeth. Here are some caramel-based candies to avoid:
Adding another dangerous element to chewy or sticky candy, the high acid level in sour candies—the particles that give you the “just ate a lemon” face—can break down tooth enamel quickly. Thankfully, saliva can slowly help restore the natural balance of acid in your mouth, but dentists warn that you should wait a half hour to brush your teeth after consuming acidic candies like these:
Sour Patch Kids
Sour Punch Straws
SweeTARTS Chewy Sours
Sour Jolly Rancher
Hard candy is the worst. Sucking on it means more time in your mouth to coat your teeth with sugar, and crunching down on it means trapping bits in the grinding surfaces of your molars. Hard candy bits take much longer to dissolve than chewy candy bits, giving all that acid-producing bacteria plenty of time to create a new cavity. Dentists cringe when they see anyone eating hard candies like these:
Root Beer Barrels
Rock crystal candy
Need a post-Halloween dental checkup?
No matter how much you try to regulate your kids’ Halloween haul, they can still stash and snack later. That means November might be a great time for a checkup if you don’t already have one scheduled. Of course, oral hygiene is important no matter the holiday or the season, so if you have questions on how to keep your child’s smile healthy and bright, call Soft Touch Dental!