Everyone knows that candy isn’t good for your teeth but some varieties are worse (and better) than others. We’re counting down the top five kinds of candy that you and your kids should try to stay far away from this Halloween.
They’re delicious, they come in every flavor, and they’re terrible for your tooth enamel. The worst thing you can do to your teeth is expose them to sugar for long periods of time. Snacking on sugary or acidic foods throughout the day is one of the top reasons why people who brush well still get cavities. Sucking on a lollipop is like snacking — but with pure sugar. I like to compare lollipops to sugar baths. When you suck on one, you’re giving your teeth an extended soak in harmful, decay-causing sugar.
If you’ve ever gotten through an entire piece of taffy without thinking (at least once) “Wow, this stuff is actual rubber,” you’re in the minority. As you probably guessed, anything that’s hard to eat isn’t good for your teeth. Laffy Taffy can easily get stuck in your teeth’s tiny nooks and crannies and stay there, causing damage to the enamel. It can also wreak havoc on orthodontics, crowns, and fillings by pulling at them. I recommend staying as far away from the stuff as possible — especially if you’ve recently had any dental work done.
Caramel made it on our list of worst foods for your teeth so it’s no surprise that it’s on this list as well. Because caramel is pure sticky sugar, it might actually be the most damaging substance you can eat — both food and candy included. Caramel is just as difficult to eat as Laffy Taffy but unlike taffy, it truly is just cooked sugar. Chewing on the sticky stuff is like asking your teeth to decay.
If you or your child can’t go a Halloween without caramel, try brushing your teeth right after indulging. It’ll make sure none of the leftover sugar stays on your teeth post-trick-or-treating.
Sour-Patch Kids may not be as sticky as caramel or taffy but they are strongly acidic which can mean serious trouble for tooth enamel. The combination of acid and sugar that gives these gummy treats their signature taste makes them both delicious and harmful. Acids can eat away at enamel, leaving teeth primed and ready for decay. Their soft consistency also means they can get stuck in between teeth, encouraging decay in those hard-to-reach places. I recommend flossing (and brushing) if you eat any this Halloween.
Tootsie Rolls are a lot like caramel in that they’re too sticky and too sugary to not do damage to your teeth. The sweet treats are by far the worst chocolate-flavored candy you can eat this Halloween. Unlike most chocolates, Tootsie Rolls don’t melt in your mouth; the sticky substance lingers in the cracks and crevices of your teeth. If you don’t brush after eating one, the leftover sugar can cause decay. Try eating just one or two of these sugary sweets on Halloween and make sure to brush afterward.
So, what candy can I eat?
Surprisingly enough, there are some kinds of candy that are actually good (well, not terrible) for your teeth. Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and calcium and can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
Your teeth can always use an extra boost of calcium and because dark chocolate doesn’t contain as much sugar as regular milk chocolate, the pros almost outweigh the cons. Chocolate melts quickly in the mouth which means any sugar it does contain doesn’t stick to your teeth. If you’re going to tuck into some Halloween candy this year, try to make it dark chocolate — for your dentist’s sake!