It’s that time of the year when your sweet tooth starts acting up, and for good reason. Everyone knows that Halloween is around the corner and candy is sure to be everywhere.
As dentists, we tell children to make sure that they brush their teeth twice a day, to floss, and lay off the sweets, but this time of year it’s tough for adults to follow their own advice.
But why is candy so bad for teeth, anyway? The main reason is corrosive acid, which is produced by bacteria fueled by sugar. These bacteria love sugar just as much as the rest of us, and candy creates a perfect environment for them. As the sugars settle into and in between teeth, the resulting acid slowly decays them to the point where small holes we call cavities are created. Unfortunately, if you have braces, the problems only start there.
Now let’s talk about the good stuff…
It tastes delicious! We all know it, so there’s no reason for us to completely avoid the sweet tastes of Halloween. But, as with most things, it needs to be done with moderation in mind.
Also like most things, some varieties of candy are worse than others. So here’s a breakdown for you:
Let’s take a look at gummy candies. They taste great, feel cool in your mouth, and stick to your gums so you can enjoy them long after they’re “gone.” Well, the reason they taste so good is because of the enormous amount of processed sugar that is packed in each bite of your favorite bear or worm. Next, that gummy texture which feels so fun and sticks to your gums is great, until the sugar that’s in it starts to fester underneath your gum line causing gum disease, coupled with tooth decay.
Gummy and sticky candies are also the worst for braces. These candies are hard to clean off of braces once they’re stuck in, and the longer they’re stuck, the better chance they have of harming your teeth.
Up next on the list are hard candies, such as Jolly Ranchers, suckers, or lemon drops. Hard candy is usually nothing more than caramelized sugar. Sugar paired with your favorite artificial flavor sounds delicious and is enough to make your mouth water on its own, but the sugar mixed with the potential tooth breaking possibilities is enough to leave any dentist scared for your little ones’ teeth come November 1st.
Hard candies are also rough on braces too. Just think of the sound or the feeling of hard candy on metal…it’s not good for anyone!
Lastly, there’s the old standby of candy apples. The first ingredient is the apple, and those are great sources of nutrition. Plus, due to the nature of their construction, they act almost like a toothbrush as your teeth chomp through, cleaning off any plaque or debris.
But, then there’s the caramel. Even though an apple can help clean up some of the sticky caramel, it can’t get all of it. Besides, eating whole apples and caramel aren’t the easiest or the best when you have braces.
Lastly, there’s the stick. We highly recommend that you don’t go munching on that… So maybe it’s best to avoid candy apples with braces.
Have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN and let’s enjoy some tasty, sweet treats, but remember to brush and floss to protect your teeth—they’re the only ones you have.