Trick-or-treating can be a nightmare for both parents and dentists. What could be scarier than ghosts and goblins on Halloween? Sugary treats that plague adolescent teeth! While we always encourage our spirited patients to stay away from too much candy, we realize Halloween is a time of year when kids indulge in all kinds of sweets. Here are the top worst Halloween candies that should be avoided this season along with some healthier alternatives.
Taffy – You instantly recognize when your children are eating taffy based on their comical chewing behavior and length of time to finish swallowing before moving on to the next candy. That’s because sticky treats such as taffy and caramel attach themselves to the teeth and are very difficult to remove. Even increased amounts of saliva aren’t enough to wash away the sugary substances that stick to the grooves and crevices between the teeth, which increase the amount of acid formed by bacteria in the mouth. Try to avoid chewy candies like gummy bears, taffy, Tootsie Rolls, and caramel fillings.
Sour candies – These popular Halloween treats have a serious vendetta against your child’s tooth enamel! The amount of acid in sour candies will contribute to an imbalanced PH level in your child’s mouth, which allows the acid in the candy to break down tooth enamel faster.
Cookies/Cake – Not only do these baked treats come in bigger servings than your average candy, but they also contain extremely high amounts of sugar that will settle on your children’s teeth, putting them at risk of tooth decay. It’s probably not a safe idea to accept homemade goods from strangers anyway, but even the packaged goodies should be avoided.
Lollipops – Hard candies such as lollipops are somewhere in the middle when it comes to the amount of damage they cause to adolescent teeth. On one hand, they don’t stick to the teeth as badly as taffy candy. Additionally, lollipops can increase the amount of saliva in the mouth, which helps rinse away the bacteria that produces enamel-eroding acid. However, lollipops take longer to dissolve and therefore stay in your mouth longer, increasing the acidity on your child’s teeth as time goes on.
Sugar-free gum – We highly recommend this as a Halloween treat this year. It contains a natural sweetener, xylitol, that protects against plaque-inducing bacteria. Sugar-free gum is also a good choice after your child eats other sugary candies, because it increases the amount of saliva in the mouth to rinse away bacteria.
Dark Chocolate – chocolate tends not to stick to the teeth as stubbornly as other sticky candies. Plus, the antioxidants in dark chocolate can provide additional health benefits that extend beyond oral health.
Be sure to monitor the amount of sugar your child consumes this Halloween, as moderation is key. Schedule your next appointment at Dentistry for Children and Adolescents to ensure that your children have happy, healthy teeth after all of that trick-or-treating!
For now, feel free to download our FREE eBook on beverages to watch out for and dental care. It will help educate you and your family on the perils of what may be hiding in your own home.