It happens every year. You tell yourself that you will NOT buy the Halloween candy that you are tempted to eat. You’ll buy something that even the Trick or Treaters will hate; you don’t care what the neighborhood kids say about you! Then you go to the store where those multi packs of Snickers, Baby Ruth, 100 Grand, Milky Way, and Butterfinger – all with festive orange, purple, and black wrappers – weaken your resolve. Then you notice the Sour Patch Kids, Laffy Taffy, and Skittles and remember how much your kids love them. You buy it ALL. When you get home, you tie the handles of the plastic grocery bag in a secure knot, place a sticky note saying “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL HALLOWEEN” on the outside of the bundle, then tuck your eight pounds of candy in an out-of-the-way spot.
Later that night, after your children are in bed, you crave something sweet. Just a little taste and you’ll be satisfied. You untie your candy sack, open a bag, and select one piece of chocolatey-caramel goodness to pop in your mouth and savor. It is exactly what you wanted, but now you’re in the mood for something with peanut butter to balance out the flavor. Twenty minutes later, the grocery bag has been ripped open, wrappers litter the floor, and you have sampled at least one of every kind of candy you purchased. You promise yourself that it won’t happen again; it was just an anomalous craving.
By the time Halloween rolls around, you have to buy more candy.
If this is your annual ritual, then you’re already painfully aware of how this nightly journey down the confectionery rabbit hole can affect your waistline. But have you considered how it affects your teeth? Whether it’s your sweet tooth or your child’s, there are measures that can be taken to protect your beautiful smile.
Know Your Candy
Different types of candy do different things to your teeth. Know what to avoid and what to choose, instead, to prevent decay.
- Sticky or gummy candies, which are easily trapped in the crevices of your teeth where it is difficult for saliva to wash the sugars away naturally.
- Sour candies, as they are highly acidic and damage your enamel.
- Extra sweet treats, such as candy corn, simply because sugar is linked to tooth decay.
- Sugar-free hard candies that stimulate the production of saliva, your body’s natural defense against plaque.
- Sugar-free gum, which not only increases saliva production, but can also dislodge small food particles from in between teeth.
- Dark chocolate, as it is lower in sugar than other chocolates and, as some studies suggest, might have additional health benefits.
After the Binge
Since you can’t count on yourself to avoid the “good stuff” and you can’t count on your neighbors to buy teeth-healthy candies for your kids, know what to do when eating Halloween candy is unavoidable.
- Timing – Eat candy shortly after mealtime and follow with a tall glass of water. Saliva production increases during meals to aid with digestion, but it also helps neutralize acids in the mouth and wash away food particles, especially when paired with water.
- Brushing – It may be your instinct to brush immediately after eating candy, but that may not be the case. If you have eaten sour candy, wait 30 minutes before brushing. If you brush prior to that, you could unknowingly be distributing the enamel-damaging acids from the candy around your mouth.
While eating candy this time of year may be inevitable, it doesn’t have to destroy your smile. The only toothless grin this Halloween will be the one worn by your jack-o-lantern.