Characters and costumes, spooky ghost stories and ghoulish delights -- Halloween is definitely here. While kids are looking forward to trick-or-treating, their parents are concerned about what all the candy will do to their children's teeth.
Although there is nothing wrong with a few indulgences to enjoy the holiday, Timothy Chase, cosmetic dentist and practicing partner at SmilesNY, said not all Halloween candy is created equal. Since candy may take over your child's diet this time of year, Chase outlines the best and worst Halloween candy for kids:
Taffy candies filled with caramel, coconut or nuts are the worst kinds of candy for teeth because they stick to everything inside your mouth, including the grooves of your teeth, he said. "The longer a food sticks to your teeth, the longer bacteria can feed on it, which can produce cavity-causing acid."
Hard candy such as lollipops or jawbreakers are the second-worst candies to be munching on. "Although they do not stick to your mouth, they take a long time to dissolve," said Chase. "The longer a food stays in your mouth, the more acidic the environment becomes."
Sour candy is also bad for your teeth because it has a higher acidic content, which can break down tooth enamel.
White, powdery candies such as Pixie Stix "dissolve quickly in the mouth and don’t require chewing, which is better for kids’ teeth, but they contain nothing but sugar and can lead to cavities by changing the mouth’s pH and giving bacteria straight sugar to feast on," he said.
Chocolate with no sticky fillings will generally not stick to the teeth and therefore is a much better option when your kids (or you!) have the urge for a sweet snack, said Chase.
Sugar-free gum may be the best treat this Halloween season because it leaves no sticky residue, which causes plaque, and it is sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar on which bacteria are unable to form plaque, he said.