Why is Candy Bad for Your Teeth?
Halloween is the time of year that includes many traditions, such as carving pumpkins, dressing up in costumes and going Trick-or-Treating! Unfortunately, the candy sticks around longer and can create a lot of damage that we don’t usually think about. As grown-ups we think about all the calories in Halloween Candy and do our best to look for healthy options. However, as parents, we really need to take into consideration the sugar in these candies and understand why is candy bad for your teeth?
We all know that eating too much candy or sugar can lead to tooth decay, but few of us are really aware of the process and how that happens. It’s not the sugar itself that does the damage, but the chain of events that takes place after you eat that piece of Halloween candy. Your children may be more motivated to listen to your warnings about the effects of sugar on their teeth if they know about the continuous tug-of-war taking place inside their mouths every day. Here’s how taking certain precautions can prevent tooth decay from controlling your family’s oral health and help you understand why is candy bad for your teeth?
Related Article: Has Your Sweet Tooth Gone Sour?
The mouth is full of hundreds of bacteria; many are beneficial to your oral system. However, certain harmful oral bacteria actually feed on the sugars you eat to create acids that destroy the tooth enamel or the shiny, protective outer layer of your tooth. Cavities are a bacterial infection created by acids that cause your teeth to get a hole in them. Without treatment, cavities can progress past the enamel and into the deeper layers of the tooth, causing pain and possible tooth loss.
A Constant Battle in the Mouth
Your teeth are frequently under attack by acids, but the good news is this damage is constantly being reversed. Acids leech minerals from the enamel of your teeth through a process called demineralization. Fortunately, the natural process of re-mineralization replaces those minerals and strengthens the teeth all over again.
Did you know that your saliva is a key player? Saliva contains minerals such as calcium and phosphates to help repair your teeth. Fluoride is another mineral that helps repair weakened enamel. However, replacing lost minerals can only do so much to prevent the effects of candy and sugar on your teeth, especially if you eat lots of sweets and starches throughout the day. Limiting your sugar intake is vital if you want to give your mouth a fighting chance to fix the damage.
Ways to Remineralize Tooth Enamel
Experts typically offer several tips for preventing cavities:
- In addition to cutting down on sugar, stimulating saliva flow is recommended to help bathe the teeth in minerals. Chewing sugarless gum and incorporating fibrous vegetables and fruits into your diet are good ways to salivate too.
- Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products also contain calcium and phosphates to strengthen your teeth, and are much better choices for snack time than sugary or starchy treats.
- Green and black teas contain substances that help suppress harmful oral bacteria, so adding a few cups to your daily routine (without sugar, of course) can help maintain a healthy balance in your mouth.
- Fluoride is a mineral that not only prevents tooth decay, but also reverses it in its early stages. So drink plenty of fluoridated water and brush regularly with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste. The ADA also recommends professional fluoride treatments from your dentist too.
We thought we’d include the best and worst types of candy for your teeth as well.
Why is Candy Bad for Your Teeth: The Worst Candy
From gummy worms, to dried fruit and taffy, some of the worst candy for your teeth has to be the sticky or gummy type. As they are chewed, this sticky material covers your teeth, getting stuck in any gap or crevice it can find. So you ask, why is candy bad for your teeth? It’s because, this can lead to a very sticky situation, because removing the material can be quite difficult. However if the sugary matter is not removed, the cavity-causing bacteria will most have plenty of opportunity to grow and spread.
Although increasingly popular among kids today, the highly acidic sour candy treats can easily weaken and damage the enamel of your teeth, which makes them more vulnerable to cavities.
Mexican candy, like Chamoy and Lucas Candy, are known for their authentic and unique fusion of flavors. Sweet, salty & spicy is the most common flavor found among Mexican sweets. However, these candies, like sour candy, can erode the enamel of your teeth and cause other negative side effects.
Certain types of hard candy, such as jawbreakers, jolly ranchers, or even lollipops, can prove to be problematic for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that biting down on the hard surface of the candy may break or damage your tooth. However, another less obvious reason would be because you keep this type of candy in your mouth for a long period of time, causing the excess sugar to get into your saliva, and continue coat your teeth.
Why is Candy Bad for Your Teeth: The Best Candy
Easily one of the most popular and beloved candy choices, chocolate or better yet, chocolate with nuts (if you’re allergy free) is also a relatively smart choice regarding your teeth due to its ability to be easily removed. While particularly hard or frozen chocolate would be an exception, regular milk chocolate treats are a perfectly safe candy choice, as long as your teeth are properly brushed afterwards.
While sugar-free gum or candy is certainly a much healthier alternative to the regular option, unfortunately sugar-free treats have gained an unpopular reputation among candy lovers as being a bit bland tasting. In recent years however, this has changed since sugar-free candy has improved considerably by using sugar substitutes to become much more flavorful and enjoyable.
Dark chocolate is one of the best candy selections in terms of oral and general health. Much like regular milk chocolate, dark chocolate can be easily removed from the surface of your teeth, making it a preferred choice. What makes dark chocolate an even better selection than milk chocolate, is that dark chocolate not only contains significantly less sugar than milk chocolate, but in recent studies, dark chocolate has been shown help lower blood pressure! And don’t forget dark chocolate with nuts, is an even better choice, if your Trick-or-Treaters are allergy free!!
Why is Candy Bad for Your Teeth: What’s Scarier Than Cavities?
At GPS Dental, we encourage both you and your children to have fun this Halloween. And if in fact your kids do indulge in some of the above-mentioned candy types, remember that a little candy every now and then is fine as long as it is done in moderation and their teeth are bushed afterwards.
Remember, constant attention is the key to preventing the negative effects of sugar on teeth. Encourage your kids to limit their sugar intake, brush away bacteria-filled plaque regularly and consume healthy foods that strengthen your teeth. Add regular dental visits to GPS Dental and fluoride treatments from Dr. Skrobanek and his team to the mix, and you and your loved ones will have the best shot at winning the battle against tooth decay.
At GPS Dental, we wish you and your family a happy, safe, and of course cavity-free Halloween!
Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek and his experienced, friendly team at GPS Dental offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the San Antonio, TX area. Our Brooks City Base dentist office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at (210) 633-3477 to make an appointment.