CAN YOU BELIEVE HALLOWEEN is coming up so soon? It’s always a fun time of year, with the spooky movies, the fun decorations, the costumes, and the tasty treats. We’re not here to drop toothbrushes in anyone’s candy buckets, but we do want to offer some tips on how our patients can make Halloween as healthy for their teeth as possible.
The Worst Halloween Candy for Our Teeth
Hard, sour, and sticky candies are definitely in the bad category. It takes time for hard candy to dissolve, which means an extended sugar bath for the teeth. Sticky candy adheres to our teeth and gums, which brings all that sugar directly to the harmful bacteria. Sour candy is acidic as well as sugary, making it doubly harmful.
Better Treats for Dental Health
So what’s the good news after all that? Chocolate! It contains compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols, which limit oral bacteria, slow tooth decay, and fight bad breath. However, the more sugar there is in it, the more it cancels out the good effects, which is why dentists prefer dark chocolate. If it contains nuts, that’s even better, unless you have a nut allergy or orthodontic appliance.
The best candy for teeth is anything sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar. This sugar-free sweetener is not only inedible to harmful bacteria, it even hurts them! The only problem is that there aren’t many xylitol candy options besides sugar-free gum in most candy bowls. Hopefully that will change!
Minimizing Sugar’s Effects on Your Teeth
If you have a sweet tooth that won’t be denied, there are other ways to fight back against the effect sugar has on teeth, such as:
- Keep the candy consumption to mealtimes. Snacking on it between meals gives oral bacteria an all-day sugar buffet, but only eating it at mealtimes gives your saliva a chance to wash away traces of sugar and neutralize your oral pH.
- Follow the candy with a drink of water. That will rinse off some of the sugar.
- Don’t slack on brushing and flossing! These daily habits are essential to keep sugar from doing lasting harm to tooth enamel.
Make Use of the Dentist
Another resource you have for keeping your teeth healthy even with all the candy Halloween brings is the dentist. Make sure you’re sticking to your usual twice-yearly appointments so the dentist can make sure you don’t have any post-Halloween cavities!