Now that Halloween is over, we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving, soon followed by Christmas. It seems like everywhere we go, we are bombarded with candy and other sweets enticing us to eat them. As we approach the holidays, family gatherings and school and work parties are becoming more prevalent, and always present at these occasions are bowls of assorted candies and an array of desserts to eat. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ve probably wondered which candies and sweets you can enjoy without risking your dental health. To help you choose which sweets to partake in, here is a list of the best candy for teeth and the worst candy for teeth.
Best Candy for Teeth
If you ask any dentist, they will tell you that the best candy for your teeth is no candy at all because of the high sugar content. However, we all know asking someone to refrain from sweets during the fall and winter holidays is a waste of breath. The good news is some candy is less damaging to your dental health and can be enjoyed in moderation.
Chocolate: Chocolate is by far the best candy for teeth. This is a good thing since it is the most popular candy and is found in many holiday desserts. Chocolate easily washes off the teeth, meaning it doesn’t stick around to cause cavities or other types of tooth damage. The best kind of chocolate for your dental health is dark chocolate because it contains less sugar. Some studies have even found that dark chocolate contains compounds that can help harden tooth enamel and provide plaque-fighting benefits. So, when you are picking out candy at a party or buying chocolate to make a dessert, opt for dark chocolate.
Sugar-free candy: Sugar is the enemy of oral health; for this reason, sugar-free candy is the second-best candy for teeth. Sugar stimulates bacteria growth in the mouth, so avoiding excessive sugar is ideal in order to prevent tooth decay and maintain healthy teeth. Sugar-free hard candies, such as the candies your grandparents seem to always have one them, also stimulate saliva production, which has a positive effect on dental health because it washes the mouth of bacteria and plaque that cause tooth problems. However, sugar-free candy also has a downside. Many sugar-free candies contain chemical sugar substitutes that are bad for other aspects of your health, so be wary of consuming large amounts of these.
Candy with nuts: When candy sticks to your teeth, cavities are more likely to develop. Having nuts in candy breaks up that stickiness, thus decreasing the chance of cavities forming. The crunch of the nuts can also help to break up some of the plaque on your teeth. Additionally, nuts contain protein and fiber, which are great for your overall health. When you are making a sweet treat, consider adding nuts to help keep the sugar from sticking to your teeth.
Worst Candy for Your Teeth
The worst part about candy is the sugar because it feeds the bacteria in your mouth that causes tooth decay. Some candies are worse than others because they sit on your teeth, fostering more bacteria growth. When you find yourself faced with choosing which sweets to eat, avoid these candies so that you can maintain good dental health.
Sticky candy: The stickier the candy, the worse it is for your teeth. A sugary candy that sticks in the crevices in your teeth is a recipe for tooth decay. Sticky candy is difficult to remove, meaning it will stay on the teeth longer, which allows more tooth-decay-causing bacteria to feast on the sugar and multiply. Dried fruit can also have the same negative effect on your dental health. It is sticky and contains a lot of sugar, making it just as bad for your teeth as sticky candy. If you find yourself reaching for some dried fruit, grab some fresh fruit instead. It won’t stick in your teeth and contains less sugar, plus it still has a great, sweet taste.
Hard candy: When you eat hard candy, such as lollipops or candy canes, you keep the candy in your mouth longer while you suck on it. This increases the amount of time your teeth are exposed to sugar. As you suck on hard candy, your saliva fills with sugar and continually coats your teeth in it, leading to more sugar exposure than when you quickly eat a piece of candy. When it comes to dental health, the length of sugar exposure is directly related to the chance of tooth decay. More time spent on teeth means higher chances of cavities. Hard candies can also break or chip your teeth if you bite down on them. For these reasons, it is best to avoid hard candy whenever possible.
Sour candy: Thankfully, sour candy is less common during this holiday season, but it is still worth mentioning due to the dangers it poses for your dental health. Sour candy is harmful for two reasons: it is coated in sugar, and it is very acidic. We have already discussed how damaging sugar is for your teeth because it fosters cavity-causing bacteria growth. High acidity can be very damaging to your teeth as well. The acids break down tooth enamel, leaving teeth more prone to tooth decay and breakage. Since the damage that can result from eating sour candy is two-fold, you should refrain from eating it at all costs. However, if you do decide to give in to the temptation, make sure you wait 30 minutes after eating sour candy before brushing your teeth. This allows time for your saliva to wash away the acidity. Otherwise, if you brush your teeth right away, you will be pushing the acid into your teeth, allowing for more damage.
Dental Care in Knoxville, TN
After seeing how harmful candy can be for your teeth, you are probably wondering how you can satisfy your sweet tooth without indulging in sugary sweets this holiday season. If you are craving something sweet, turn instead to fresh fruit. Fruit offers excellent health benefits and can be just as delicious as candy. When you are making a holiday dessert, use fresh fruit and less sugar to add some natural sweetness. Additionally, store-bought sweets contain excess sugars, but you can make your own at home using ingredients that are better for your dental health but still taste great! For example, ice cream can be made at home using bananas to achieve the same sweet taste and creamy texture that you love but without the damage to your teeth. Peanut butter and coconut are also great additives to desserts that can make any holiday treat taste great while allowing you to reduce the sugar content.
Monitoring sugar consumption is just one part of great oral health. If you want to have healthy teeth, you should regularly visit a dentist. At University General Dentists, we can provide you with all the dental services necessary to help you maintain good oral health, from regular hygiene to restorative procedures. Whether you just need a routine cleaning or need to have tooth decay corrected, we can help. Reach out to us today at our UT Medical Center Office at 865-305-9440 or our West Knoxville Office at 865-500-5700 to schedule an appointment.