Satisfying Sweet Tooth Not So Sweet for Teeth

Halloween candy | Image by asife

Now that Halloween trick-or-treating has concluded, it’s important to keep dental health and hygiene in mind while consuming your collected treats.

Clinical associate professor Janna Burnett from Texas A&M College of Dentistry recently spoke to KERA about the effects of different sweet treats on dental health.

Candies that contain chocolate, such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and M&Ms, rank as the top two most popular candies in the U.S. But how do they rank in terms of their effect on teeth?

According to Burnett, chocolate is generally easier to brush away than other types of candy, making it a better choice.

Additionally, dark chocolate is even better because it contains less sugar, and studies suggest that the flavonoids and polyphenols found in dark chocolate can help reduce bad breath, she said.

Are there any candies that could be more of a trick than a treat? Burnett said that sticky or hard candies can dislodge dental work, while sour candies are more acidic, increasing the risk of cavities and dissolving dental enamel.

Gummy candies are also known to be potentially harmful as they tend to stick to teeth for a longer duration, leading to the settling of sugar into crevices and depressions. This prolonged contact makes it easier for the sugar to cause harm to the teeth.

For those who enjoy traditional treats such as popcorn balls, caramel popcorn, or caramel apples, Burnett suggested either brushing and flossing after consumption or avoiding the caramel altogether.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, Burnett recommended trying apples with peanut butter in place of caramel apples.

Burnett also offered some tips for preventing damage to your teeth if you do give in to the candy cravings.

Eating candy during meals increases the production of saliva and helps to wash away sugar from the teeth, she explained. Additionally, chewing gum that contains xylitol can naturally help in cleaning teeth.

Most importantly, it’s vital to maintain good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly to ensure optimal dental health, Burnett advised.

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