Trick or treat? I’m guessing that’s not the first question you ask yourself when you look into a large bowl of delicious mixed Halloween candy. If you ask a dentist, the scariest thing about Halloween is the potential damage that candy can do to teeth. Think it’s just the sugar content that worries dentists? Nope… Experts say that trick-or-treat sweets, especially the sticky, gummy, and acidic ones, aren't quite so sweet when it comes time for your next dental check-up. Chocolate lovers rejoice? Not quite, but plain chocolate and especially dark chocolate (contains anti-oxidants) are favorable to the sticky, gooey and hard ones as long as you rinse with water and brush your teeth after enjoying. Enjoy your Halloween sweets, or in many cases your children’s, but be selective if you can and try and steer clear of these top 10 confections that are extra scary for your teeth.
- “Jolly Ranchers” make me cringe, says San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD. Jolly Ranchers are sticky and hard and contain 3.6 grams of sugar per little piece and 11 grams per serving size, which is three pieces. These candies are so hard that they are sucked allowing the flavoring and sugar to thoroughly saturate your mouth and gums. Worst yet is the sticky outer layer, an and invites biting.
- Does sour make you smile? Then Sour Patch Kids might be your treat of choice. The sour that makes these treats so tantalizing is acidic and can damage the hard protective layer of your teeth called enamel. Because of their sticky nature these treats can also get stuck in and on teeth and can lead to decay.
- Jawbreakers by name alone are scary but the cracking and structural damage that these sugary hard treats cause is downright terrifying. People with braces and brackets should especially avoid the hard confections as they can knock of brackets.
- Tootsie Rolls are sticky and full of sugar. Remnants of this treat can be hard to remove from teeth and can cause decay.
- Now and Later’s speak for themselves from a dental standpoint. You enjoy this chewy sugary treat now and deal with the consequences of dental decay, lost fillings and even crowns later. Sticky, chewy sugary treats and our teeth are just are a super scary proposition.
- Lollipops are often kids favorite treats but they can deliver double tricks in the form of cracked teeth from biting and decay from all of the sugar. Sugar-free lollipops lack the sugar and can even help produce saliva which acts to moisturize and keep bacteria from sticking to teeth but it still invites those bites and can lead to cracked and chipped teeth.
- Candy corn are loved by many and probably hated by just as many. Did you know that this nostalgic treat has been around since the 1880’s. This sweet fall treat is made with sugar, corn syrup (essentially sugar in different form) and wax. Hmmm…sounds like a recipe for decay to me.
- Pixy Stiks and Fun Dip make many of us think of our childhood. These treats have both positive and negative attributes. Good: they are powdery and generally dissolve in ones mouth fairly quickly leaving less time for damage to be done. Bad: they are almost as acidic as battery acid which is obviously not a good thing to put in your mouth. Enjoy these nostalgic treats sparingly and make sure to rinse after eating and wait 30 minutes before brushing. Yes, I said wait. Brushing immediately after enjoying an acidic treat can actually cause more damage than good. Make sure to rinse but hold off for a bit on the brushing.
- Double Bubble gum is another Halloween bag mainstay. Some gum can get the dental double thumbs up, but not this one. Sugar-free non-stick gum is sometimes recommended by dentist to help produce saliva in patients’ that are prone to decay, have dry mouth or who can’t always brush after eating. Gum can scrub tooth surfaces and remove food remnants left after eating. Sugary, sticky gum like Double Bubble is not good for teeth.
- Chocolate lovers we could not let you completely off the hook. Gooey, sticky candy bars such as Twix and Milky Way are not the best picks from that treat bag. While delicious, packs a double punch with sugar and sticky caramel which can stick to teeth.
Most of us love a sweet treat every once in a while and we don’t know any dentists that take a zero treat approach, it is smart to choose wisely and make sure to brush and floss after enjoying.
San Francisco Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD who has recently developed a little addiction to peanut M&M’s has been caring for his patients for over four decades and thrives on seeing the generations of smiles that have passed through his practice. Dr. Loev and his dedicated team hope that you have a wonderful relationship with you dentist and that you visit them every 6 months for cleaning and check-ups. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are in need or want of a new dentist they would love to care for you and earn your trust and loyalty. Schedule online or call Corinne at 415-392-2072.