You may have noticed the store shelves filling up with costumes, pumpkins, spooky Halloween decorations, and, of course, aisles and aisles of candy. It’s that time of year again. Soon, little storm troopers, ghouls, and ballerinas will be knocking at your door, expecting you to fill their bags and plastic pumpkins with sugary treats.
You may assume it doesn’t matter what type of candy you buy. After all, sugar is sugar, and it’s all bad for their teeth anyway, right? Well, yes and no. We generally don’t suggest kids fill up on candy in general as enough of it will harm their oral health. However, some types of candy are worse than others.
So as you peruse the Halloween candy displays at Brookshire’s or Target this year, be educated and choose treats that are less likely to linger on your neighborhood kids’ teeth. When sugar stays on the teeth, it promotes the growth of decay-causing bacteria, plaque, and tartar.
And be sure to stay on top of your own oral health. To book an appointment with Texas Grins Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry of Willow Park, TX, call (817) 779-7111.
Candy Worst Offenders
Here is a rundown of some of the worst candies you can buy, at least in terms of their impact on kids’ teeth.
- Gummy bears, worms, fish, etc. Gummy candies are, well, gummy. That means they have a tendency to stick around on the teeth.
- Sour gummy candies. These have all of the detrimental effects of gummy candy, with the added punch of being high in acid. Acid breaks down tooth enamel and leads to cavities.
- Hard candies. If you suck on a piece of hard candy, it stays in the mouth for a long time, melting and mixing with saliva. This creates a sugary wash that coats the surfaces of the teeth. Plus, it can actually chip or crack the teeth if you bite down on it. For your dental health, hard candy is a lose-lose.
- Taffy, caramel, Starburst — or anything chewy, gooey, or sticky — is bad news. They get trapped in the grooves of the teeth and promote decay.
Some people hand out snacks that they think are healthier alternatives, but that really aren’t. We’re talking gummy fruit snacks, roll-ups, chewy granola bars, and even dried fruit. Don’t be fooled! While dried fruit at least has some nutritional value, all of these things are sugary and sticky, which is always a bad combination when it comes to your oral health. Popcorn balls are a fun fall tradition, but popcorn has an annoying tendency to get caught in the teeth.
If a lot of neighborhood kids have braces, you may want to keep in mind that they have to be extra careful about what they eat. Not only do braces make it more difficult to keep the teeth clean, but there is the added danger of breaking a wire or bracket. These children must avoid all sticky and gooey candies that can get trapped in the braces, as well as anything with nuts or other hard elements. Whatever you decide to buy, try to have at least one option for these kids. Soft, nut- and caramel-free chocolates are good, as are peanut butter cups (but not the crunchy kind).
What Are the Best Candy Choices?
So what are better options for filling your treat bowl on October 31st? Good news: there are plenty of things that will satisfy kids’ sweet tooths, while being not so bad for their dental health (if eaten in moderation, of course).
- Chocolate. Who can argue with this one? Luscious chocolate melts away quickly and washes off the surfaces of the teeth more easily than other varieties of candy. Dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate, which has a higher sugar content. Chocolate and cocoa beans may even contain compounds that are good for teeth. One is believed to help harden tooth enamel, and another may fight plaque due to its antibacterial properties.
- Peanut butter cups are another Halloween treat that are popular with kids and okay to enjoy in moderation.
- Sugarless gum is a great choice because it’s actually beneficial to dental health. It promotes saliva production, and saliva helps keep the mouth clean by washing away food particles and bacteria. It’s important that it’s sugarless, though.
- Candy bars that contain nuts are a good option for braces- and allergy-free kids. Nuts are good sources of protein and fiber, and they can help minimize the harmful effects of stickier candy.
Hopefully this will be a helpful guide when you purchase your Halloween candy this year. It’s one small thing you can do to benefit the teeth and gums of the kids in your neighborhood.
And don’t forget to look out for your own oral health. Call Texas Grins Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry of Willow Park, TX for your next appointment at (817) 779-7111. You may also get in touch through our convenient online form.