It’s Spooktober, and while Halloween isn’t until the end of the month it’s not going to stop you from enjoying loads of candy until then. Fun fact, the average American consumes a whopping 22 pounds of candy a year, most of it during this month! That is a lot of candy!
As dentists, our best advice for you is to avoid candy altogether, as it’s a main cause of tooth decay. However, it’s simply unrealistic to think kids and adults alike can make it past Halloween without eating any candy. Not even the scary thought of tooth decay will keep you from enjoying sweets all month long. So, we’ll give you a pass. After all, Halloween is all about candy and having fun! Just make sure that you’re brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily all year round.
After Halloween there’s an influx of patients that go to their dentists with complaints about their teeth. Most of these problems involve poor oral hygiene and consuming the wrong types of candies. Don’t let that be you or anyone in your family. Check out our take on what candies are the best and worst for your teeth, so when it comes time to separate candy at the end of Halloween you know which ones you to keep or get rid of.
The Worst Candies for Your Teeth
Lollipops and Jawbreakers – Let’s start our list off with some of the worst candies that’re true enemies to your teeth. Both lollipops and jawbreakers – Dum Dums, Gobstoppers and Warheads – spend a lot of time in your mouth. You’ve heard of the saying ‘time is money.’ In this case, these candies spend lots of time in your mouth which create an acidic environment. You’re more susceptible to tooth decay at this point, which translates to money you’ve got to fork out during a dental visit down the road. Hard candies like Jawbreakers and Jolly Ranchers can also break or fracture your teeth if you’re not careful and chew into them.
Taffy and Toffee – We continue our look at candies that get too much time and exposure with your teeth. Up next on our list is taffy, toffee and other sticky candies. These candies – Laffy Taffy, Sugar Daddies and Airheads -are terrible because they can will stick to the surface of your teeth. You may be able to scrape it off with your tongue, but it will leave behind a thin sugar layer on the surface. This is perfect grounds for bacteria to feast upon and the acid it excretes is what really wrecks your teeth. Consuming these candies makes it all the more important you brush and floss your teeth soon after.
Caramels – Caramels may be soft and delicious, but they have another side that’s pretty dangerous to anyone with healthy teeth. These sticky candies have the nasty habits of getting stuck between your teeth. It can sit there for hours until you floss it out, but by then it’ll have done major damage to your enamel. Caramel is also terrible for anyone with dental work, such as braces or fillings, as they can stick and cause lasting damage if not removed with caution.
Gummies and Licorice – Do you like Twizzlers, Red Vines or gummy bears? Bad news for you. Not only are they very sticky sweets that are certain to turn into acids in your mouth, it’s also difficult to brush them off at the end of the day. Worst part is, these are amongst the most popular candies to hand out during Halloween. Be sure to spread this to others you know in your neighborhood, so they know not to get these candies during their last minute trip to the store for candy.
Sour and Citrus Candies – Sour candies are little sugar bombs coated in more sugar. Some of these candies – Sour Patch Kids, Sour Skittles and Sour Punches – are pure sugar and are very acidic. This combo has only one outcome…tooth decay. On the other hand, citrus candies – Lemon Heads, Mike and Ike, and Skittles – are extremely acidic and eat away at your teeth the moment they come into contact with them. The result of eating either candies can be scarier than Jack Nicholson running an axe through your bathroom door!
The Best Candies for Your Teeth
Sugar Free Gum – This may not be the first thing you had in mind to give out during Halloween, and you certainly wouldn’t expect it in your candy bag. However, sugar free gum comes in many assorted flavors, and it’s perfect if you want healthy teeth before and after Spooktober! Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates salivary flow, which neutralizes floating acids in your mouth, and it helps remove substances stuck on the surface of your teeth. Just don’t chew too much, else you can overexert your muscles and experience jaw aches.
Chocolate – Chocolate is one of the simpler treats to enjoy without having to worry about your teeth. It melts in your mouth and is quite easy to wash off. Beyond that, dark chocolate has even less sugar and is a good source of antioxidants which are great for your overall health. Stock up on them Kit-Kats, Hershey Kisses and M&Ms.
Granola Bars and Trail Mix – Both granola bars and trail mix consist of healthy ingredients. You have an assortment of nuts, oats, yogurt nibs and dark chocolate chips all in one treat. These are perfect for handing out, and they’re delicious too! Just make sure if you’re making your own to not make them to sticky or chewy, as that can lead to cases of TMJ and other jaw-joint issues.
Popcorn – Popcorn often falls borderline between good and bad treats for your teeth. On one hand, popcorn doesn’t cause cavities plus is a great source of fiber. It’s one of those treats that can actually be good for you. However, we all know how painful and frustrating it can be to have a popcorn shell stuck underneath the gum line. This by itself can cause bleeding and infection until it’s removed and cleaned.