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Trick-or-Teeth: Which candies are easiest on the teeth?

Published: October 29, 2020 by Jeannette Sanchez

A little girl dressed in a pirate costume holds a bucket of candy.
Trick-or-treaters will be better off with candy that doesn't stick to their teeth.
Dr. Greg Olson wearing a white coat and tie. The coat has the UTHealth School of Dentistry logo.
Dr. Greg Olson, chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at UTSD, said the type and quantity of candy, how long it's on the teeth, and how the teeth are cleaned afterward all matter.

Dressing up in the spookiest costume and indulging in sweet treats are part of the fun on Halloween. But consuming too many of these treats can lead to some unwanted tricks on the teeth, if you're not careful.

But don’t hang up the costume just yet – experts at UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston say one night of eating candy won’t have a big impact on a healthy mouth, if it’s done in moderation.

“It is all about having self-control or parental control,” said Gregory Olson, DDS, professor and chair of pediatric dentistry at UTSD. “Having a piece of candy here and there won’t do too much damage to a healthy mouth, but the type of candy you pick, how many you eat, how long it lasts, and how you care for your teeth afterward could make all the difference.” 

Stay away from sticky crawlers

Hard or chewy candies like gummy worms and taffy are the worst type of candy for teeth, according to Olson. That’s because they stay in your mouth for a longer period of time and may stick to your teeth, causing potential harm if not washed out.

Adding a layer of sour sugar to gummy candies is no good either. “Sour candy adds another level of harm to gummies because they are both sticky and acidic. Although it’s extra tasty, eating a lot of this candy can cause tooth enamel to break down or weaken, leading to cavities,” Olson said. 

Chocolate for the win

When digging through the candy stash, it might be best to pick up a piece of chocolate, the darker the better. This is great news because chocolate is often a favorite year-round and not just on Halloween.

Chocolate is the best candy for your teeth, Olson said. “It melts in your mouth pretty quickly, meaning it won’t stick around as long to cause cavities.” And really, who doesn’t love chocolate?

Leave the scary stories to Halloween night

One night of candy isn’t likely to ruin the teeth. To help avoid a dental nightmare, Olson suggests the following tips for a healthy mouth: 

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly, at least two times a day;
  • Floss at least once a day, but more often if food is stuck between the teeth;
  • Monitor children as they brush their teeth and ensure they are brushing thoroughly – help them as needed;
  • Schedule routine visits to the dentist to keep teeth nice and healthy;
  • Limit sweets.

For children and adults, candy is a huge part of the Halloween fun. Consuming candy in moderation and being cautious about what type is a great way to avoid tooth decay. A happy and healthy smile can last a lifetime.

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