Halloween in Mount Pleasant is the best! Lots of fun, crazy costumes, and you even get candy. Even dentists like candy…especially Dr. Randy!
What pediatric dentists don’t like is the colossal cavity bonanza and the health problems that can occur from the massive amounts of candy involved. The average trick-or-treater returns home with up to 7,000 calories worth of candy on Halloween night – equivalent to 140 servings of ice cream!
All the sugar in those treats can play some awful tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful (we won’t even get into the many other health issues arising from Halloween candy). If you think you like candy – the bacteria in your mouth love candy even more than you do! When bacteria metabolize the sugar in your mouth, they produce an acid that decays your teeth.
What can we do as parents to divert a dental disaster?
There’s no need to give up on the fun just yet. It’s OK to let your kids splurge a little and have some candy now and then. As with many things, moderation is everything. As long as they’re brushing twice per day and flossing daily, a little candy won’t hurt them.
Regular cleanings and checkups at our pediatric dental practice can keep your family’s oral health in tip-top shape even if you slip in some candy once in a while.
But not all candy is created equal. While you’re “inspecting” your children’s candy (aka finding the Snickers bars), help them make responsible choices about what types and how much candy to eat. Dedicated trick-or-treaters can easily get their paws on far more candy than would be reasonable to eat, so help your kids trade their excess candy for my cold, hard cash (see below).
To help you sort through the trick-or-treat-bag loot, we have a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth:
Dr. Randy’s Thoughts on Candy
Sticky candy like Tootsie Rolls and caramel might taste great, but they are among the worst choices to eat from a dental perspective. They become stuck in teeth like mortar and can damage dental work. Limit consumption of sticky candy, and avoid it completely if your child is undergoing orthodontic work.
Hard candies do double damage. There’s an obvious risk of damaging teeth or dental work when biting through tasty morsels like Jolly Ranchers, but they also present a less obvious danger. Hard candies tend to spend a long time in your mouth, giving your teeth ample time to be completely bathed in sugar and continuing to feed cavity-causing bacteria.
While nearly all candy poses some problem for teeth due to sugar content, sour candies take it one step further than others. Sour candy can be very acidic and is almost as bad for tooth enamel as battery acid! Some of the most popular sour candies happen to also be hard or sticky, giving your teeth the double whammy.
Chocolate is the most popular type of candy given out on Halloween. You might be happy to hear that chocolate is one of the better choices for candy. It poses little risk to teeth or dental work and is easily cleaned off when you brush. You should also choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Not only does dark chocolate contain less sugar, but it contains certain antioxidants that help prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth.
Dr. Randy Wants Your Candy!
If your kids had a pretty successful trick-or-treating run, help them donate the excess of their candy horde to America’s troops via Operation Gratitude, with the help of your favorite dentist in Mt. Pleasant.
~Dr. Randy Pagenkopf