Not all candy is created equal, and while I will whole heartedly admit I love chocolate (I mean really love it), and can polish off most flavors of chips the question is what is the best and worst choice when satisfying that sweet tooth?
With Halloween treats just around the corner, can you help your kids make wiser choices of what to keep and what to gift to the Halloween heavens? OR maybe what you purchase to give out to all the gouls and goblins that come a knockin?
Now, although for the sake of this blog candy will be placed under a "best" category and "worst" category, that doesn't mean I'm promoting one type as "healthy" for your teeth and the other as "Not - Healthy". All I'm saying is that not all candies or sweets will affect the tooth in the same fashion and IF your consuming sweet treats anyway maybe there are things one can take into consideration?
NOTE: for purpose of dental health HAVING NO CANDY AT ALL IS THE "BEST" CANDY PRACTICE; but how practical is that come Halloween?
So to start I think it is worth the re-mention that not all sugar is created equally, and some candies are considered "less" damaging to the tooth than others. Really the most a dental professional can ask of their patient's is that the next time you indulge in sweet treats, you take steps to MINIMIZE the potential damage those sweets could do to your teeth. Oral Health home care techniques such as brushing, flossing and rinsing can all help to MINIMIZE the effects.
I once visited a Drayton Valley elementary school and to each one of its classes (ask them if they remember how we "grew" plaque! So much fun), I explained that when you eat something with sugar, the bacteria that lives in your mouth will also consume that sugar. Without going into my entire presentation the short story is that when this happens the bacteria then excrete acid and the acid is the real problem. Anyway..........here we go! Onto the "BEST" and "WORST" catagories:
1) DARK CHOCOLATE: is the best candy for your teeth. Some studies have shown (and I'm not just saying this cuz I LOVE CHOCOLATE) the compounds in cocoa beans may have an antibacterial effect that can aid in the fight against plaque?
2) SUGARLESS GUM/CANDIES: these are the candies with stevia or candies that a diabetic person is able to indulge in. Remember sugar "feeds" bacteria and upsets the healthy ratios of pH and bacteria in the mouth, so sugarless candy comes in as "second best" here. This is only due to the lack of sugar as some "sugarless" candy can contain other bad ingredients as well so read those labels.
3) CANDY BARS WITH NUTS: ONLY IF YOU HAVE NO NUT ALLERGIES!!! This choice is due to the reasoning behind that the chunks of nuts are able to break up the stickiness of the candy as it is the stickiness that increases the chance of cavities. With this logic the nuts break up the "badness" of the sticky parts of the candy. The type of bars for this topic are in my opinion NOT candy bars but protein or granola bars such as KIND bars that have a large percent of nuts and not really much chocolate at all.
1) ANYTHING STICKY: the stickier the candy, the worse it is! Examples: Jujubes, Tootsie Rolls, Sweedish Berries etc. The effects of these candies will linger because they "stick" around, increasing the risk for decay.
2) LOLLIPOPS: In my opinion THESE ARE THE WORST!! They sit in the mouth for prolonged periods of times with continual sugar release and exposure. Its like a fondu supper for the bacteria, an eat, hang out and relax if you will with all their friends all the while destroying your teeth (so melodramatic I know).
3) POTATO CHIPS: With a heavy heart (no really this is killing me) the beloved potato chip makes the list as well. It is on the list for a different type of "stickiness" factor. These flavorful favorites of mine unfortunately also stick in the grooves and in between the teeth with ease:(
So there you have it, I guess Halloween needs to be cancelled? NO I'M JUST KIDDING! No hate mail please!
Really the purpose of this was just to show that really anything that is a sugar when mixed with bacteria in your mouth is a potential cavity nightmare. HOWEVER, as mentioned from the beginning if you take steps to minimize (BRUSH< FLOSS< RINSE) the potential damages that these sweet treats can unleash you should be fine.
Personally, I would purchase chocolate or chips to give out. Chocolate will dissolve from grooves of teeth (eventually) and if the studies are correct about cocoa beans possible benefits, well take the good with the bad I say and as far as chips, well I feel as thought they are easier removed from the grooves with flossing and brushing than the really sticky (jujubes, taffy, gummy worms etc.) are.
No matter what you chose to consume or give this Halloween, be safe out there and BRUSH YOUR TEETH BEFORE BED!!!!
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Independent Dental Hygienist in Drayton Valley, AB