The holiday season is upon us and that means it’s time to shop for treats and presents for the people we love! We all know that candy isn’t the healthiest choice for our teeth but there are certain types that are better than others. Our children’s pediatric dentistry team have compiled some suggestions for the types of candy to avoid, and a list of more dental-friendly goodies to stuff in those stockings.
Stocking Stuffer Don’ts
The reason why candy is bad for your teeth is that the sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth that causes tooth decay. The key to choosing better types of candy over others is choosing the types that don’t facilitate the sugar to sit on your teeth for long durations of time.
Sticky Candy. The problem with sticky candy is that it adheres to the crevices of your teeth and allows the bacteria in your mouth to feast on sugar, which leads to tooth decay. Sticky candy also sticks on your teeth longer and is harder to wash away by drinking water or through your saliva.
Hard Candy. Candies such as candy canes and or lollipops actually coat your teeth with sugar as you suck on them. The longer it takes you to finish the candy, the longer you are continually coating your teeth with sugar. Hard candies can also cause chipped or broken teeth if you bite them. These are two reasons why hard candy should be avoided, if possible.
Sour Candy. Most sour candy is coated with sugar and is very acidic, properties that can lead to tooth decay or tooth damage. The sugar adheres to bacteria in the mouth causing possible tooth decay, while the acidic properties can eat through enamel and leave teeth vulnerable to decay or damage. One important thing to remember about eating sour candy is that you should wait about 30 minutes after you eat it before you brush your teeth. It is actually possible to work the acid into your tooth rather than cleaning it away if you brush too soon after eating it. Allow some time for the natural saliva in your mouth to wash away the acid from the candy.
Better Stocking Stuffer Choices for Healthy Teeth
Chocolate. Chocolate is the best candy for teeth because it washes off teeth much easier than other types of candy. Dark chocolate is actually the best because it has less sugar than regular chocolate. Some studies have found that dark chocolate contains certain compounds that help harden tooth enamel and have plaque-fighting benefits.
Sugar-Free Candy or Gum. Since there is no sugar in sugar-free candy or gum, it eliminates the possibility of sugar adhering to the bacteria in your mouth and causing cavities. In addition, sugar-free candy or gum increases the amount of saliva in your mouth so that cavity-causing bacteria is washed away. Try to avoid eating too much sugar-free candy since the sugar is replaced with artificial sweeteners and too much of this ingredient could negatively affect your health in other ways.
Candy with Nuts. Candy that contains nuts tends to break up the sugar that can stick to your teeth, and the crunch of the nuts can also break up the plaque on your teeth. With the added protein and fiber that nuts have, this type of candy is a healthier choice for more than just dental health.
Of course, another option would be to avoid edible stocking stuffers altogether, in favor of small toys and games that will take your children’s minds completely off their sweet tooth cravings. No matter what goes in those stockings, though, don’t forget to keep up with all those good brushing and flossing habits through the holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you at your next appointments!
Wishing All Our Patients a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season!