Halloween is supposed to be scary; for your teeth, the sugar-fueled holiday can be downright terrifying. Consuming excessive amounts of candy gives the naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth plenty of sugar to feast on, and this can lead to the production of enamel-destroying and teeth-rotting acids. To protect your pearly whites this Halloween, follow our simply guide to fighting back against the worst types of sweets.
The Spooky Staples. Most traditional halloween candy, like Nerds, Twizzlers, and candy corn, is made almost entirely of sugar – this is great news for acid-producing bacteria, but terrible news for your vulnerable smile. How To Fight Them: Finish every candy binge with a nice, tall glass of H2O. Like saliva, drinking water can help wash away sugar and acid from teeth. Most tap-water in the United States (and some bottled water) also contains fluoride, a mineral that protects against tooth erosion.
The Horrifying Hard-Candies. Jawbreakers, Jolly Ranchers, and suckers are especially bad for teeth because they stay in your mouth longer – the longer your teeth are exposed to their sugars, the longer bacteria have to feed on the sugars and create acids. Not only this, but biting down on some hard-candies can cause chipped teeth and grind protective sealants away from molars. How To Fight Them: Eat chocolate instead! Although chocolate is also high in sugar, it dissolves away from teeth faster than hard candies, thus reducing the amount of time the sweet stuff lingers in your mouth. In addition to being high in iron and fiber, calcium in chocolate may actually help promote tooth enamel, and studies have shown that dark chocolate contains antioxidants which lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Bring on the Hersheys!
The Terrifying Taffies. Gummy Bears, Mike & Ikes, Laffy Taffy, and Starburst are all more likely to get stuck in the grooves, pits, and crevices between teeth where saliva is unable to wash the decay-causing sugar away. How To Fight It: Chewing gum, especially the sugar-free kind, can actually prevent cavities by dislodging food stuck between teeth and stimulating acid-neutralizing saliva production. Many varieties of sugarless gum are also sweetened with xylitol, an alcohol that reduces bacteria.
The Shocking Sours. High acid level in sour candies like Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, and Sour Punch Straws can break down teeth’s enamel doubly-fast – not only do they give bacteria plenty of sugar to gnosh on, but the sour-tasting acid alone acts to erode teeth’s protective enamel. How To Fight It: Before brushing (which we recommend doing after every candy binge), wait at least 30 minutes for your mouth’s saliva to wash away the acid from your teeth; otherwise, you might end up spreading the acid to parts of your teeth that weren’t originally exposed to the candy’s harmful effects.