What to Avoid in that Halloween Stash

We know that Halloween might have looked a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  We also know that for most people, whether you went trick-or-treating or not, you probably have a lot of excess candy lying around this week.  Like good parents, we are certain you’ve confiscated your kids’ candy in order to ration it.  That makes it even more tempting to grab a piece every time you walk by the pantry.  This blog will tell you which candy to indulge and which to avoid.

“Good” Candy

While no candy is good for you, there are some that are less bad for you.  Most candy has a high sugar content, so it all carries an increased risk for cavities.  The simple sugars in candy are the favored fuel source for cavity-causing bacteria.  Bacteria can quickly convert this sugar into acid and weaken, soften, and penetrate into the tooth’s enamel.

Candy that contains some protein or fat in addition to the sugar will have a slightly lower cavity risk.  This includes candy with chocolate, nuts, and peanut butter.  A “good” candy is one that you can finish quickly, with a relatively low sugar content and some proteins or fats to balance the sugars.  When you search through the candy stash, reach for a dark chocolate bar or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Obviously, sugar-free candy can be good for your teeth!  You will get extra points if the sugar substitute in the candy is xylitol.  This plant-based natural sugar has an inhibitory effect on the bacteria that cause cavities.  They ingest the xylitol, but they cannot digest it and produce the dangerous acid.

Bad Candy

The amount of sugar in a candy is not the only factor that determines its ability to cause a cavity.  Another important factor in the cavity-causing process is how long you expose your teeth to this sugar.  For this reason, we have to consider the consistency of the candy and how we ingest it.  Candy that is gummy or sticky may get stuck into the grooves of the biting surfaces of teeth.  Anything that stays on the teeth after you chew and swallow will increase the risk for cavities.  This includes gummy bears, fruit roll-ups (yes, we consider that to be candy), and the ubiquitous candy corns.

Another type of candy with an increased risk for cavities because of the length of time it exposes the teeth to sugar is hard candy.  Anything that you would hold in your mouth and suck on for more than a few seconds, like a lollipop or peppermint, continually bathes the teeth in sugar.  The Tootsie Roll owl says it only takes 3 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, but a Purdue University study said it is actually closer to 364 licks.  It takes a pretty good length of time to lick a lollipop 364 times.  The constant sugar exposure is bad for your teeth!

More Questions about Good Candy vs. Bad Candy?

Dr. Chowning can answer all of your candy questions and give you specific recommendations based on your unique cavity risk.  Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 to schedule a visit with him.

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