Before you dig into your children’s treasure trove of trick-or-treat goodies, you should know that some types of candy in the bag could cause a lot more harm to your teeth than others. How can you tell which confections are the best and worst for your teeth? Here’s a primer to put you on the right path.
Sticky or Hard Candy
Consuming sugar isn’t great for your teeth, no matter how you cut it. However, sugary treats that linger can cause a lot more damage. Sticky candies that contain caramel or nougat tend to be the worst because they cling to teeth and get stuck in between, staying behind long after you’ve eaten to feed bacteria and attack enamel.
Sadly, this means you should try to avoid candy bars like Twix, Snickers, and Milky Way that contain caramel. You should also stay away from hard candies. Not only do these pose a choking hazard for tiny tots, but they’re also terrible for your teeth. If you suck on them, you’re prolonging the time sugar is in contact with teeth, and if you bite them, you risk cracking or chipping teeth.
Gummy and Sour Candy
Like caramels, gummy candies like gummy worms or bears, Swedish fish, and Sourpatch Kids tend to stick to teeth and cause a lot of harm. In addition, the sour flavoring added to some candies can be highly acidic, making for a one-two punch of potential harm where your oral health is concerned.
You’ll be glad to hear that there are some types of candy that are not so bad for your teeth, and some that may even be good. Chocolate, in general, is preferable to other types of candy because it’s a lot easier to rinse away and it doesn’t tend to get stuck between teeth as much as caramel or nougat, for example.
In addition, dark chocolate has properties that actually make it good for your teeth, including a compound called CBH that has been found to strengthen tooth enamel, and compounds in cacao husks that help to fight bacteria. Dark chocolate even has antioxidants that can help to improve gum health.
Sadly, there is a caveat. In order to gain the health benefits of dark chocolate you must limit your intake to 3-4 ounces per day. When chocolate is dark enough, however (70% cacao or higher), a little goes a long way toward satisfying a sweet tooth.