The Best and Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth

We asked a dentist which candy to buy and which to avoid this holiday.

Halloween candy image via shutterstock

Halloween candy image via shutterstock

According to a survey from Charlestown-based, Delta Dental of Massachusetts, 80 percent of parents admit to eating the candy from their kids’ halloween haul. And while a little treat now and again is just fine, when it comes to dental health, some candies have the potential to do more damage to teeth than others. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an adult or a child; cavities don’t discriminate.

So what candy should you choose for trick or treaters? Dr. Linda Vidone, dental director of Delta Dental of Massachusetts says that when picking out Halloween candy, choose candy that melts and disappears quickly. “The longer teeth are exposed to sugar, the longer bacteria can feed on it, which can produce cavity-causing acid,” she says. “It’s best to avoid letting kids snack on candy throughout the day.”

Vidone says that it’s extremely important that kids brush their teeth or at least rinse with water after eating sweets. And while no sweets are good for teeth, some are less harmful than others.

We asked Vidone for the best and worst treats for teeth. Here are five options ranked from best to worst:

1. Sugar-free candy and gum with xylitol
Sugar-free foods don’t contain sugar that can feed on bacteria in the mouth and produce decay-causing acids. Gum and candy with xylitol may actually protect teeth by reducing the acids produced by bacteria and increasing saliva to rinse away excess sugars and acids.

2. Powdery candy
Sure, powdery candy is packed with pure sugar, but the texture allows it to dissolve quickly which prevents sugar from sticking to teeth and producing acids and bacteria.

3. Chocolate
Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. Also, the calcium in chocolate can potentially help protect tooth enamel. However, chocolate with fillings, such as caramel or nuts, is much more harmful for teeth as it is harder to chew.

 4. Hard candy
Hard candy is tough on teeth because it stays in your mouth for an extended period of time, which ultimately coats teeth with sugar. Additionally, biting down on hard candy can chip or break teeth.

5. Chewy candy
Chewy, sticky treats are particularly damaging because they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down.