Each year in the U.S., approximately 35 million children go trick-or-treating on Halloween — and studies show that each child can consume up to three cups of sugar while eating the candy they collect.
While no candy is beneficial for the teeth, some types are worse than others, according to Dr. Kevin Sands, a board-certified cosmetic dentist based in Beverly Hills, California.
Sands shared with Fox News Digital the Halloween candy that should be limited or avoided altogether.
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Here are his tips.
5 types of Halloween candy to avoid
Jawbreakers and suckers can be particularly damaging to the teeth, Sands warned.
“These candies don’t just pose a risk of chipping or cracking your teeth if bitten down on too hard, but their prolonged presence in your mouth provides bacteria with a long sugar feast,” he said.
“This can potentially lead to cavities.”
Sticky or gummy candies
Taffy and caramels can be especially troublesome, Sands said.
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“Their sticky nature means they often get lodged in the nooks and crannies of the teeth, making them difficult to remove even after brushing,” he said. “These sugar residues can promote bacteria growth and tooth decay.”
Along with sour candies’ appealing tang comes an alarming acidic punch, the dentist cautioned.
“Many sour candies have a pH level dangerously close to battery acid,” Sands noted. “Continual exposure to such acidity can cause the enamel to break down, leading to sensitivity and other dental issues.”
It might seem that sugar-free candies are a tooth-friendly choice — but these often contain citric acid, which, despite the absence of sugar, can still wear down enamel, the dentist said.
Chewy candies like nougat and toffee can stick to the teeth, providing a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
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“These bacteria can then produce acids that erode enamel and cause tooth decay,” the dentist said.
7 less harmful candy options
For those who want to indulge without doing too much harm to the teeth, Sands recommended sticking to the following sweets.
Chocolate: When comparing candies, chocolate seems to be a slightly safer option. “It dissolves quickly and is less likely to get stuck on or between teeth,” the dentist said. “In particular, dark chocolate, with its reduced sugar content and rich antioxidants, can be a more tooth-friendly treat.”
Powdered candy: Powdered candies, such as pixie sticks, dissolve quickly in the mouth and don’t stick to the teeth for an extended period, reducing the risk of tooth decay, said Sands.
Smarties: This type of candy quickly dissolves in the mouth, minimizing the time sugar is in contact with the teeth.
Yogurt-covered raisins: “While they contain sugar, yogurt-covered raisins are less sticky than caramel or toffee-based candies,” Sands said.
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Nuts: Nuts, such as almonds or peanuts, have minimal sugar content and are a better choice for dental health, Sands said.
Mini packs of popcorn: Plain or lightly salted popcorn can be a less sugary option compared to many other candies, according to the dentist.
Sugar-free gum: “Sugar-free gum can actually promote dental health by stimulating saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and cleanse the mouth,” Sands said.
Tips for promoting children’s dental hygiene
“Encourage children to consume treats in moderation and maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing after consuming any type of candy,” Sands recommended.
Additionally, providing alternatives like small toys or non-edible treats can be a great way to enjoy Halloween without compromising dental health, he added.
Below are the dentist’s most important tips for kids to maintain optimal dental health and hygiene.
Encourage regular brushing and flossing: Teach children to brush their teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, encourage flossing once a day to remove food particles and plaque between the teeth.
Use fluoride toothpaste: Choose a fluoride toothpaste that is age-appropriate for your child. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
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Encourage water consumption: Water helps rinse the mouth and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth after eating candy or snacks.
Promote healthy snacks: Opt for healthier snack options like fruits, vegetables, cheese and nuts. These choices are not only nutritious but also less harmful to dental health.
Schedule regular dental check-ups: Dental professionals can detect early signs of issues and provide guidance on proper oral care.
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“By following these recommendations and encouraging a healthy dental routine, you can help your child develop good oral hygiene habits that will benefit them throughout their lives,” Sands said.
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