Halloween Candy and Your Teeth


As Halloween looms around the corner, so do visions of candy apples, chewy caramels and sacks full of candy. Unfortunately, treats bring the threat of cavities with them too. If only you could trick yourself into staying away from Halloween candy completely. Instead, find out which candies are the worst for your teeth and how to reduce your chances of getting cavities after indulging.

Teeth, Meet Sugar

We grow up hearing that candy is bad for our teeth. In reality, the sugars in many foods, including bread and pasta, can contribute to cavities.

Your teeth are coated with plaque, which is a sticky film made of bacteria. When that bacteria is exposed to sugar, acid is produced. The acid degrades the enamel, eating away at it and leading to decay.

The Worst Candies For Cavities

If you’re concerned about your dental health or that of your kids this Halloween, you should know that some treats are worse for your teeth than others.

Sour Candies
Tooth enamel starts to be worn away when the pH level in your mouth is at 4.0. Sour candies have more acids than many other types of sugary treats. In fact, they tend to have a pH level of below 5.5. Below are the pH levels of common sour candies:

  • Sweetarts – 3.0
  • X-treme Airheads – 3.0
  • Sour Punch Straws – 2.5
  • Skittles – 2.5
  • Laffy Taffy – 2.5
  • Starburst – 2.4
  • Lemon Heads – 2.4
  • Sour Skittles – 2.2
  • ;Wonka Grape Nerds – 2.0
  • Wonka Fun Dip Powder – 1.6

To compare, battery acid has a pH of 1.0.

Sticky Candies
Treats that are chewy or sticky tend to cling to your teeth for longer than others, giving the sugar more time to combine with the bacteria and degrade the enamel. If your enamel has already eroded, your teeth might be more inclined to develop cavities.

You'll often know if you have enamel erosion because you might experience symptoms such as:

  • Sensitivity when you consume cold, hot or sweet items
  • Slightly yellowed teeth
  • Transparent enamel at the biting surface
  • Visible indentations on the surface of your teeth

Hard Candies
Hard candies are designed to melt away slowly. The longer they stay in your mouth, the more they wreak havoc on your teeth. Plus, you run the risk of damaging your teeth or breaking your fillings if you crunch down on hard candies.

The Best Candies For Your Teeth

If you're going to be picky about your Halloween candy, you might try to consume more of the treats that are less likely to contribute to cavities.

Sugar-Free Candy
Although sugar-free candy may be better than sticky, sugary goodies, some types of artificial sweetener are just as bad for your teeth as sugar. Plus, sugar-free foods often contain acidic additives, including citric acid, which damage the lining of your teeth.

Sugar-free treats that contain Xylitol might be a better option. Xylitol has been found to prevent bacteria from adhering to the teeth. It also helps the pH levels in your mouth remain neutral. Xylitol can even repair damaged enamel.

Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate. It also wipes off of teeth quickly. Choosing a piece of chocolate that contains nuts is even better. The nuts act as scouring pads and scrape sugar residue off of the teeth.

Powdered Candy
Although candy powders are usually straight sugar and acidic flavorings, they dissolve fairly quickly. Plus, you don't chew them, and they can largely bypass the teeth as they make their way across the tongue.

How To Take Care Of Your Teeth This Halloween

You're probably not going to bring a toothbrush trick-or-treating, and that's ok. Brushing your teeth immediately after they're softened from the acids in foods can grind away enamel quickly.

Wait approximately 30 minutes after eating candy before brushing your teeth. Drink and swish your mouth with plenty of water while you wait. Chewing sugar-free gum can pull sugar away from your teeth.

Although you may be tempted to sneak small bites of candy throughout the day, that's worse than eating a larger amount at one time. Your mouth is only designed to handle about four or five exposures to acid a day. If you limit the frequency of your candy consumption, you may be less likely to develop cavities.

If you're concerned about the health of your teeth, don't wait until they hurt to get them checked out. Regular cleanings remove the tartar that can build up around the gum line. Visiting your dentist frequently can help you monitor the status of your enamel and prevent cavities.