There’s a lot of misinformation out there about how candy affects your teeth — get all the facts straight before Halloween night.
It’s that time of year again — costumes, ghouls, and jack-o-lantern buckets filled to the brim with candy. Over 600 million pounds of candy are sold in the United States each year during the Halloween season, and American families spend about $2.75 billion annually on Halloween candy.
Although Halloween will look a little different because of the coronavirus pandemic, families can still have spooky and safe holiday fun if they follow CDC guidelines. As you shop for treats to enjoy inside on Halloween night, keep these five myths about how candy affects your teeth in mind.
- Sugar-free candy is harmless
Numerous studies have shown that sugar-free candies can be just as harmful as their sugared counterparts but in a different way. Sugar-free candy won’t directly cause cavities, but they can still eat away at your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel erosion can cause tooth sensitivity, pitting, and chalkiness on the surface of your teeth.
However, sugar-free gum is the exception to this myth! Dental professionals agree that sugar-free gum is good for your dental health because it stimulates saliva flow, helps re-harden soft enamel, and contains xylitol, a sugar-alcohol that tastes sweet but actually helps block cavity-causing bacteria. Chew away — but opt for mint instead of fruit flavors.
- Brushing removes all traces of sugar from your teeth
It’s true that practicing good dental hygiene like brushing and flossing keeps plaque from building up on your teeth, but it’s not a miracle cure. Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day removes most of the plaque and sugar particles left behind from eating sugary foods, but there will always be microscopic particles left behind. As such, you shouldn’t expect to brush away the evidence of the chocolate bar you just ate, and “start over” with clean teeth.
- Chocolate is the worst candy for your teeth
This may seem surprising, but chocolate is actually better for your teeth than other kinds of candy. The compounds in cocoa beans have antibacterial properties that can help fight plaque. Also, it’s often easier to brush and wash chocolate off of your teeth at the end of the night.
This doesn’t mean that you should opt for a chocolate shake instead of a fluoride rinse, but you can feel free to have a square or two of chocolate on Halloween. But be sure to pick dark chocolate — it has less sugar than milk and white chocolate.
- Candy is worse than snacks and chips
Candy certainly steals the show, but it’s not the only treat kids like to munch on during Halloween. Salty, cheesy, greasy chips and buttery crackers — everything you would want during a scary movie marathon — can be just as bad for your teeth as candy, maybe even more so. These snacks are high in sugar and their flavored coatings stick to your teeth and make it harder to brush off. Luckily, there are plenty of other tasty, tooth-friendly snacks to try.
- It’s ok to get cavities on baby teeth because they’ll fall out anyway
This might be the most harmful myth of all. Good dental hygiene is essential at any age, but especially for young children. Baby teeth damaged by cavities can negatively impact a child’s nutrition, cause bite alignment problems, lead to infections in the other teeth, and prevent their adult teeth from developing properly. If you notice that your child has a cavity, make an appointment with their dentist right away to get it fixed.
Have a Happy (and Healthy) Halloween!
We love Halloween, and we want you to have fun with your family — without compromising your dental health. Remember to schedule a regular visit with your dentist, especially if you think your child has been eating a little too much candy lately. Contact the dental professionals at Espire today! Our luxurious atmosphere and caring staff prove that going to the dentists doesn’t have to be scary.