Do you have a sweet tooth? A sweet treat now and then is a perfectly acceptable way to indulge in that sweet tooth; however, the kind of treats you pick can affect your oral health. We already know that sweets and desserts tend to be high in sugar, but candy – especially hard candy – can negatively affect your teeth. Here’s the scoop on what’s in your candy dish.
Types of candy
Candy is a large category of sweets that encompasses everything from chocolate bars to truffles to lollipops and butterscotch candies. Not all candy affects your oral health in the same way.
- Sticky or chewy candy, including gummy type candies, caramels, taffy, toffees: These types can dislodge dental and orthodontic appliances.
- Hard candies, including peppermints, butterscotches, lollipops, lozenges
Why is hard candy bad for my teeth?
Most candies are created with a base of sugar and fat. Softer candies tend to have more fat than the hard candies (i.e., soft caramel has more butter and cream than the hard caramels). The hard candies have much more sugar; this is part of what makes them hard.
However, all of that sugar creates the perfect environment for cavities. Not only is there an increased amount of sugar, but the sugar sits for a prolonged time on the teeth while the hard candy melts and dissolves in the mouth.
The link between sugar and cavities
Sugar by itself does not create a cavity, but sugar does feed the bacteria that cause cavities. As the bacteria feed on sugar, they produce acid, and it is that acid that eats away at the tooth enamel.
What kind of candy can I eat?
We get it; no one wants to hear that they have to ban candy forever, but choosing the right candy and taking the necessary steps can help you safely enjoy the candy you do eat. Chocolate tends to be a better choice (as opposed to hard candy or chewy candy) because it rinses off the teeth much easier and does not sit in the mouth as long as a hard candy does.
Still, if you choose to eat hard candy, you can minimize the impact on your oral health, by following these steps:
- Eat candy in moderation: The more you eat, the more sugar that is introduced into your mouth.
- Drink water after eating candy: Water helps flush out any lingering sugars from the candy.
- Eat candy with a meal: Once you finish your veggies, of course! Because your mouth has already produced more saliva during the mealtime, eating candy with a meal helps prevent decay.The salvia fights the acid in your mouth and also helps flush out the sugar quicker.
- Floss and brush: As soon as you are able, floss and brush after eating candy.
Whether you treat yourself to a piece of candy once a week or once a month, remember to keep your routine dental appointments and to maintain a solid oral care routine. If you have questions about hard candy or cavities, don’t hesitate to ask us!