Sugar Affects Teeth: The Magic of Halloween!

In a world where COVID-19 remains a lingering public concern and endless political advertising dominates all media outlets, a little Halloween fun is perhaps just what the doctor ordered! Thankfully, with Halloween right around the corner, kids and parents alike will have a chance to let off a little steam and partake in the timeless fall tradition that we all know and love. However, while trick or treating is sure to put plenty of smiles on young faces, keeping those little smiles healthy can put a bit of a scare into parents this season!

Sure, a little candy is fine every now and then, but as parents; which ones could be harmful for kid’s teeth? As a frequently asked question for us here at Overland Park Dentistry, we believe it is a good idea for all parents to have a firm grasp on which types of candy to be on the lookout for during the Halloween season. Therefore, in this article we will discuss here how sugar affects teeth, as well as highlighting the worst types of candy for teeth and a few types of candy that might provide a healthier alternative instead!

Related Article: Oral Health and Hygiene: Keep Your Immune System Strong

Halloween Havoc: How Excess Sugar Can Harm Teeth

While It’s no secret that sugar is bad for teeth, how exactly sugar affects teeth is not something that everyone fully understands. Once sugar enters the mouth, it quickly interacts with the sticky film that surrounds your teeth, commonly known as plaque, thereby creating a chain-reaction. When sugar comes into contact with the plaque, it is absorbed by the bacteria within the plaque, thus releasing acid as a waste product. The acid produced will in turn, begin to dissolve the tooth’s enamel, ultimately causing the tooth to slowly decay.

Obviously, tooth decay is a progressive issue that often affects people more as they get older. However, it’s important to realize that children who develop oral health issues at a young age are likely to carry these issues along with them into adulthood, in which they are likely to worsen. This underscores the significance of instilling proper healthy oral hygiene and lifestyle habits amongst children as preventing any such issues before they occur is always the best route.

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Not all Halloween Candy is the same!

Although no candy is genuinely good for your teeth, its only natural to indulge in a few treats during Halloween! Nonetheless, it’s important to realize that some candy is considerably worse for teeth than others. In the list below we have compiled some types of candy that you should try to avoid and some that are healthier to enjoy based on how sugar affects teeth.

Sugar Affects Teeth: Candy to Avoid

  • Chewy Sweets: From gummy worms, to caramel chocolate and taffy, unquestionably some of the worst candy for your teeth has to be the chewy or gummy type of candy. As they are chewed, this sticky material covers your teeth, while proceeding to get stuck in any gap or crevice it can find.  This can lead to a (no pun intended) very sticky situation as removing the material can be quite difficult, however if the sugary substance is not removed, the cavity-causing bacteria will most certainly have ample opportunity to flourish.
  • Hard Candy: Certain types of hard candy, such as jawbreakers, jolly ranchers, or even lollipops, can prove to be problematic for a couple of reasons, the first and perhaps most obvious reason is the fact that biting down on hard surface of the candy may break or cause damage to the tooth. However, another less than obvious reason would be the simple fact that one would likely keep this candy in their mouth for a prolonged period of time, thus causing the excess sugar to get into your saliva, and continue to wash over and continuously coat your teeth. 
  • Sour Candy: Although increasingly popular among kids today, the highly acidic sour candy treats can easily weaken and damage the enamel of your teeth, thus making them more vulnerable to cavities

Sugar Affects Teeth: Candy to Enjoy

  • Milk or Dark Chocolate: As easily one of the most popular and beloved candy choices out there, regular chocolate is also a relatively smart choice regarding one’s teeth due to its ability to be easily removed. While particularly hard or frozen chocolate would certainly be an exception, regular milk chocolate treats are a perfectly safe candy choice, so long as your teeth are properly brushed afterwards.
  • Candy with Nuts: Believe it or not, candy bars with nuts can actually help break up the sticky resin that chewy or gummy candies leave behind. However, just remember not to put these bars in the refrigerator!
  • Sugarless Candy: Okay hear us out on this one! While sugar-free treats have gained something of an unpopular reputation among candy lovers as being a bit bland tasting and therefore less than satisfactory. In recent years however, this has changed as sugar-free candy has improved considerably by using sugar substitutes to become much more flavorful, and thereby much more enjoyable.

Overland Park Dentistry Can Help You Stay Cavity-Free This Halloween

There are few events more fun then Halloween, and at Overland Park Dentistry, we hope you and your kiddos get to enjoy yourselves during this season of thrills and chills! While we certainly advise a bit of caution when indulging in some of the treats listed above, perhaps the most important tidbits to remember are keeping up with proper oral hygiene habits and to practice a little good old-fashioned moderation!

From all of us here Overland Park Dentistry we wish you a happy and cavity-free Halloween, until next time keep smiling!

Local dentist, Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS, and his team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with preventativerestorative or cosmetic dentistry. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Overland Park Dentistry
Even though going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things to do, my experience with Dr. Kimes have always been good. They are both very kind and considerate and try to treat you as painlessly as possible.