With a lot of leftover candy around after Halloween, we thought it would be timely to examine candy’s effect on teeth, and what you can do about it.
Why Is Candy so Bad for Teeth?
Candy contributes to tooth decay, but not as directly as you might think. Sugar is the favorite food for harmful bacteria in the mouth that release enamel-stripping acid when they feed on the sugar.
It gets worse. If you forget to brush your teeth and floss, the bacteria can turn in to plaque, which can then further harden into tartar. Both of these substances are difficult to remove and allow the bacteria to continue to decay the teeth. Once the enamel is stripped away it doesn’t take long for cavities to form. If cavities are neglected the decay can reach the inside of the tooth, cause an infection, and effectively kill it — which causes it to fall out or need to be pulled.
What Kinds of Candy Are the Worst for Teeth?
> Sticky, chewy candy like taffy, caramel, gumdrops, etc. are the worst because they adhere to between teeth where the saliva can’t break it down as easily. Also, sticky candy can pull out fillings.
> Hard candy is also to be avoided if possible. Since they last a long time, it gives plenty of opportunities for the harmful bacteria to release their enamel-eating acid.
> Also worth mentioning are sour candy because they contain enamel-eating acid.
What Kinds of Candy Are Not so Bad for Teeth?
> Sugar-Free Gum, Lollipops and Hard Candies.
Gum high in Xylitol, like Icebreaker Ice Cubes, stimulate saliva production which helps break down the harmful bacteria. Sugar-Free Lollipops and Hard Candies can stimulate saliva as well.
> Dark Chocolate. It’s lower in sugar than milk chocolate and it’s full of antioxidants.
How Can You Minimize the Impact of Candy on Your Teeth?
Counterintuitively, it’s not a good idea to brush your teeth right after eating candy. You would think it would help, but it’s actually brushing the sugar deeper into the crevices of your teeth.
It’s actually best to rinse your mouth with water, wait 30 minutes, and then brush their teeth.