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Wellbody Tip: Halloween Candy Health Hierarchy
Ha! Nearly 80 percent of parents admit they delve into their child’s Halloween candy stash. And that’s not even counting the parents who don’t 'fess up—or the ones who stock up on bags of treats weeks before Oct. 31 and can’t resist snacking.
While it’s OK for you and your kids to indulge a sweet tooth every now and then, it’s important to realize some treats can harm teeth more than others.
This Halloween, keep your mouth healthy and your sweet-tooth satisfied with the following tips from Delta Dental of Washington:
• Choose candy that melts quickly. The longer your teeth are exposed to sugar, the longer bacteria can feed on it, which can produce cavity-causing acid.
• Eat candy in small portions and at limited times—after a meal, as a dessert or during regular snack times.
• Brush your teeth or rinse with water after eating sweets to reduce exposure to sugar. While no sweets are good for teeth, some are less harmful than others.
Delta Dental ranks the best and worst treats for teeth on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being least harmful:
1. Sugar-free candy and gum with xylitol: Sugar-free foods don’t contain sugar that can feed on the 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 (such as sugar straws): Sure, powdery candy is packed with pure sugar. But powdery candy dissolves quickly and doesn’t stick to the teeth.
3. Chocolate (such as candy bars): Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. In addition, calcium could help protect tooth enamel. However, chocolate with fillings, such as caramel and nuts, is a lot more harmful for teeth than the plain variety so stick to solid milk or dark chocolate.
4. Hard candy (such as lollipops or mints): Hard candy is tough on teeth because it tends to be sucked on at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time. Plus, chomping down on hard candy can chip or break teeth.
5. Chewy candy (such as caramels or gummies): 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.
Top Tooth-Friendly Treat: Items, such as small toys, stickers, pencils, money or fresh fruit. For additional tips on how to help keep children’s teeth healthy during Halloween and all year long, visit the Tooth Fairy’s Halloween website at www.toothfairytrickytreats.com.
Download a spooky poster with tooth-friendly Halloween fun facts.