Is Candy Really That Bad for Your Teeth?

General & Cosmetic Dentists Serving Omaha, Bellevue, Lincoln and Nearby Nebraska

Posted: October 9, 2019
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Happy family of four posing with pumpkins and in costume on Halloween

It's soon to be Halloween night! You want your kids' teeth to be healthy and strong, but you also don't want them to miss out on candy-collecting festivities all of their friends and classmates will be participating in on October 31. What is a good parent to do? Remember that when it comes to sweets and dental health, moderation is key. Of course the best case scenario would be no candy, but Halloween comes only once a year and trick-or-treating is one of those hallmark American traditions. Below, see our tips for balancing your child's dental health with their trick-or-treat haul.

A Balanced Approach is Usually the Best Approach

When your child comes back with an overflowing candy collection on Halloween night, you may be worried about tooth decay – and with good reason: Sugar is a major culprit in causing cavities. Here are a couple ideas:

  • Set the expectation that they can have a certain amount of candy, at a certain time each day. It's actually better to eat the whole daily serving of candy at one time, instead of spacing it out as multiple snacks throughout the day. Each time your child snacks on candy, cavity-causing bacteria feast on the sugar. It is the acid produced by the bacteria that causes cavities, so it makes sense to limit how often they are feasting on the sugar.
  • Let your child know ahead of time that you'll be donating half the candy. There are several programs that will take excess Halloween candy and distribute it to veterans, deployed troops or other people in need of a pick-me-up, such as children living with serious illnesses and their families. Google donation opportunities in your area and let your child know well in advance that half of the bounty will be given away. It's a good time to discuss the importance of giving and sharing.
  • Teach the importance of rinsing, then brushing, after eating candy. Getting the sugar off of your teeth helps prevent cavities. Your teeth enamel is sensitive right after eating, so you need to wait at least a half an hour before brushing; however, rinsing immediately with water will wash away some of that sugar.

What Sugar Does to Your Teeth

The bacteria in your mouth feast on the sugar and other food products on your teeth. As they do so, they produce acid. It is this acid that deteriorates enamel over time, eventually forming the pits we call cavities.

Sticky Candies are Major Culprits

Halloween candy spilling out of an overturned pumpkin bucket on a white backgroundBecause bacteria like the sugar on your teeth, you can reduce their acidic activity by preventing the amount of time the sugar sits on your teeth enamel. You can rinse away a lot of the sugar by swishing with water and brushing your teeth a half hour or longer after eating. You can also let your kids keep the candies that don't stick to teeth as much as other candy.

Sticky candies cling to all the pits and grooves in your children's teeth. Sticky, chewy candies include:

  • Gummies
  • Taffies
  • Starbursts
  • Skittles
  • Candy bars

On the other hand, plain chocolate dissolves quickly in your mouth and tends to not be quite so sticky. Peanut butter cups, plain chocolate bars, chocolate coins, chocolate Frankensteins – these sweets will rinse away more readily than the sticky selections listed above.

Schedule Your Next Cleaning

We have four office locations across Omaha. If you or a family member is due for a routine teeth cleaning and dental health checkup, please call us in Hillsborough: 402-445-4647, Ralston: 402-733-4441, Village Pointe: 402-505-7474, or Dundee: 402-502-5593.

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