“Trick-or-treat!” It won’t be long before you and your kids are headed out to collect lots of goodies for Halloween. But those coveted sweets can do some serious damage to your teeth.
At Union Square Dental, located in New York City’s Flatiron District, we offer pediatric dentistry, dental cleanings, and many other services for the whole family. And as part of our desire to help you stay healthy, we want to share how you and your kids can enjoy Halloween and protect your teeth at the same time.
So, in this blog, we go over how sugar can affect your teeth, the treats you should avoid, and the treats you can enjoy.
What sugar does to your teeth
Our mouths are full of all kinds of bacteria, both good and bad. Good bacteria help break down your food while you’re chewing. Bad bacteria, on the other hand, turn sugar into acid.
Acid damages the enamel on your teeth. This is how cavities and tooth decay are able to develop, which is why it’s important to brush your teeth right after you eat.
The worst treats for your teeth
When eating candy this season, you should be aware of some treats that can be bad news for your teeth. They include the following:
Any type of chewy or sticky sweets can do serious damage, because they can get stuck on and between your teeth. This can allow the sugars in these candies to stay on your teeth, and bad bacteria can feed on them and produce enamel-eroding acid. This also goes for any candied or caramel apples.
Tooth decay and cavities occur not only because of what’s on your teeth, but because of how long it stays there. This means that anything that you keep in your mouth for a long time is potentially a problem. So when you suck on a lollipop or other hard candy for quite some time, it poses a risk for the health of your teeth.
Hard candy could also cause chips, cracks, or breaks in your teeth. If you have a child who loves to crunch their sweets, they’re at risk for breaking a tooth. It’s important to remember to never crunch hard candy, especially if your tooth enamel is compromised.
Sour candies can pack a punch, but they can also have a lot of acid — such as citric acid — which can erode tooth enamel. And gummies can be an even bigger threat to your teeth, because they can also be coated with a lot of sugar.
The best treats for your teeth
If sweet treats are too hard to avoid this Halloween, here are some of the better ones to look for:
Typically, chocolate is a good candy choice, because it tends to be much easier to rinse off your teeth. Candies that include caramels and nougats are going to get stuck, but chocolate melts and goes down more completely. It will probably still leave some residue, but it will definitely be much less than others.
Dark chocolate is an even better way to go, because it has less sugar and a richer chocolate flavor.
This might be a tough sell, but sugarless candy will minimize the risk for tooth decay the most. You’ll still have to rinse off any residue left behind, but you won’t have to worry about any leftover sugar lingering and causing damage to your enamel.
Nuts contain protein and fiber, which are good for your overall health, and they’re able to break up the sticky parts of a candy bar and help remove the film that can form on teeth and damage them.
The bottom line
If you do decide to indulge in candy for Halloween, keep these rules in mind:
- Don’t keep candy in your mouth for a long time
- Don’t crunch hard candy
- Rinse your mouth with water immediately after eating candy
- Brush and floss as soon as possible
To learn more about eating right this Halloween, or to get expert dental care, call 212-675-7877 to book an appointment with Union Square Dental today.