Halloween Candy

What kid doesn’t love to stuff his face with every halloween candy he can possibly imagine?  On Halloween night, he enters the veritable buffet of candy and treats.  While he may be satisfying his sweet tooth and perhaps overdoing to the point of utter gastronomical distress, he actual teeth may be undergoing their own distress.  Of course, it’s to be expected.  We all know candy and teeth do not get along, but there are some candies that are far worse than others.  This shouldn’t put a dampener on the night’s festivities, but it’s good to know ahead of time about the journey your child’s are about to embark on (and your teeth too)!

Halloween Candy to Watch Out For

Hard candy can be brutal on teeth.  In this category, you’ll find suckers, lollies, and the classic jawbreaker to name a few.  There are two big reasons hard candy are among the worst types of candy you can chow down on.  If you go the impatient route and chew on them instead of suck, the hard chunks can damage your teeth.  Especially hard candies can and have chipped and cracked teeth.  Not only can this be painful, it can lead to the expense of being repaired.  Additionally, small pieces of candy can become lodged in all manner of cracks and crevasses.  These small sugary fragments can be next to impossible to clean out and you’ll have to wait for it to dissolve.  In the meantime, bacteria will have already made their.  Alternatively, if you do choose to suck on the candy, the candy will probably be in your mouth for quite some time, which gives bacteria ample time to feast on the sugars.

Chewy candy isn’t quite as harsh as hard candy, but it’s still pretty bad.  Popular chewy candy includes caramel and taffy, along with jelly beans and gummies.  One thing chewies have going for them: they usually dissolves faster than hard candy.  Of course, that’s neither good nor bad news, but you will inevitably get chewy or gummy candy stuck between your teeth and in the many grooves.  In the event you do get chewy candy stuck between your teeth, all you need to do is floss and brush it away.  Like any candy, you’ll want to do that as soon as possible to limit promoting bacteria and decay.

Chocolate is often cited by dentists as a favorite choice when it comes to the candy they hand out on Halloween (yes, not all of them hand out toothbrushes).  The reason for chocolate’s popularity—besides being yummy?  It melts fast, which means it typically isn’t in the mouth for too long.  Keep in mind this usually includes your basic chocolate candies with no frills.  Chocolate-based candies, such as M&Ms, chocolates with nuts, or chocolate-coated candies don’t really fall into this category, due to those other components, so watch out!  And dark chocolate is by far the best chocolate to eat.  It often contains less sugar than say semi-sweet or milk chocolate, and is higher in anti-oxidants.

Sour candy is an interesting group.  They often fall in the hard candy and chewy candy categories, but they’re being called out for their acidity.  These include sour Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, and so on.  To achieve the sourness, they’re often coated with various acids, such as citric acid and malic acid.  One study even concluded that some sour candies approach battery acid levels of acidy (PDF chart of sour candy acidy levels can be found here).  While sour candy may be fun to eat, it’s definitely something to limit!

At the end of the night, that candy is still candy, which means its primary ingredient is sugar (unless, you bought boring sugar free candy).  It’s a great time to teach kids moderation and good brushing and flossing habits, hopefully without resorting to scare tactics (no, too much sugar will not turn you into a zombie.  I think).  If you’re hesitant about loading up random kids with candy, it’s perfectly acceptable to hand out toothbrushes and floss.  The kids might not agree, but their teeth (and parents) will!

About the Author: Harmon Pearson recently began work on a post-graduate degree in Dental Science, with the goal of pursuing a doctorate degree.  He also spends time blogging about the experience and reminding everyone to make a regular dental appointment.  When he isn’t studying, he restores antique pendulum timepieces.  Follow him on Twitter @TooSweetHarmon!