Know before you bite: Halloween candy guide

October 27th, 2015

Halloween candy graphic with descriptions about dental concerns

Eating too many Halloween treats can lead to a scary-looking mouth because sugary sweets can increase the likelihood of cavities in little witches and goblins.

Here’s a look at some common candy culprits.

  • Chocolate: Who whoo doesn’t like chocolate? While high in sugar, chocolate clears the mouth faster than sticky candy. Dark chocolate is the best for healthy teeth, as the antioxidants can inhibit bacteria from adhering to tooth surfaces. As an added bonus, dark chocolate may help promote a healthy heart!
  • Chomping on hard candy can leave you snaggletoothed by chipping off sealants, breaking fillings and fracturing teeth. And in young children, it can present a choking hazard or aspiration risk. But if the candy is sugar-free and allowed to dissolve slowly, it can increase saliva production, which helps wash away plaque.
  • Caramels: These sticky sweets are a fall classic, but they can get stuck in the grooves of the teeth. Once there, they can be hard for children to brush away. Supervise your child’s toothbrushing technique. Or, during mealtime, pair with an apple to make a healthier snack.
  • Taffy may taste good, but these sticky treats can pull off crowns, space maintainers or orthodontic hardware. So beware of damaging dental work along with creating a cavity-prone oral environment!
  • Little goblins may favor gummy bears and worms. But most are acidic and can demineralize tooth enamel, causing erosion. Frequent snacking on these gummies can lead to tooth sensitivity. Ouch!

If the mere mention of candy is making you want to run and hide, there is some good news: Sugar-free chewing gum can actually minimize tooth decay. It helps remove food particles around the teeth and increase saliva that neutralizes acids in the mouth.

Candy cautions

Even parents are known to raid trick or treat bags, so make good oral hygiene a family affair!

  1. If you have sugary snacks, eat them in moderation, preferably at mealtime.
  2. Brush teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and use dental floss daily.
  3. If you are unable to brush after your snack, rinse your mouth with water to help remove acidic products from your teeth.

These tips will help keep cavity monsters away this Halloween. Don’t be tricked by your treats!

Article contributed by: Dr. Ann Lindley ’14, ’16 (pedo), Dr. Chelsea Taliaferro ’16 (pedo) and Dr. Susan McGuire, clinical assistant professor in pediatric dentistry and assistant director of dental service, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital

— Jennifer Fuentes