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The Worst Halloween Treats for Your Teeth

10.21.16 | CMC - Blue Cross Blue Shield - Editorial

Anyone who’s ever gone trick-or-treating knows that not all treats are created equal (as judged by the raisins and black licorice that languish in the bottom of the bag until nearly Christmas). But it’s not just flavor that candy is judged by. Most dentists agree that sweets can also be ranked from most to least harmful to the teeth.   

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), it’s not just the sugar in candy that can be detrimental, but the way your mouth responds to the sugar. “The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are,” says an article posted on the ADA’s, titled “Halloween Candy: Your Dental Survival Guide”. “When the bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is what can contribute to cavities.”

The ADA went on to list the worst candy for your teeth at Halloween.

  1. Sticky and gummy candies. Caramels, gummy worms, taffy—you know the type. These candies stick to your teeth, scoring a point for cavity-causing bacteria.
  2. Hard candies. At first glance, hard candies seem innocuous enough. Until you consider the reality. For one, hard candies remain in your mouth for an extended period of time, giving your saliva a steady stream of sugar. Second, as the name states, these candies are, indeed, hard and could actually break a tooth when chewed.
  3. Sour candies. The acid in sour candies can break down tooth enamel, weakening the outer part of your tooth.  Some dentists recommend that if you do eat sour candies, wait until a half-hour after you’ve finished to brush your teeth. That way, you won’t cause additional damage to the enamel.
  4. Popcorn balls. They’re salty, sticky, sweet and delicious—but could also cause harm to your teeth. The kernels can get in between teeth, and hard bits could even cause teeth to break. If you do eat popcorn balls, plan on flossing before bed.

Don’t be afraid to indulge a little on Halloween, but make good choices. The ADA says that if you’re going to have candy, consume it with meals or soon after, when saliva production is high. If you can, stick with sugar-free candy and gum, and dark chocolate for a sweet splurge. And, of course, drink lots of water and brush and floss your teeth in October and throughout the year.