I’m not really into dressing up for Halloween, but one thing I do love is the candy. Anyone who knows me knows my sweet tooth is the size of the Western Hemisphere. My dentist also knows that (I can see him shaking his head). But come Monday—you’ve actually probably been picking at your candy bowl since you made that Target run last week—when you’re faced with the daunting decision of which sweets to eat (and which ones to give your kids), run through this list in your head. Here’s what dentists say are the worst candies for your teeth, and some of the better ones you can choose too, so you can at least have some fun.
“All candies are not created equal,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irene Grafman, DDS. “There are things that make some candies not your teeth’s best friend. You want to primarily stay away from anything that will stick to your teeth for extended periods of time, like Werther’s Original Chewy Caramels, Tootsie Rolls, Swedish Fish, Laffy Taffy, Baby Ruth, etc. The longer the sugars sit there, the more damage they can do.” Another culprit: candies that stay in your mouth a long time and take a while to dissolve, like Starburst, lollipops and Jaw Breakers.
However, there are some candies that Dr. Grafman says aren’t so bad. “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Peanut M&M’s and chocolate bars like Hershey’s. The best choice of candy is always dark chocolate because it actually offers some nutritional content as well.”
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There’s also a dentist-recommended way to eat the Halloween candy if you can’t resist it. “The best way to eat candy is to eat it all at once and then brush immediately to eliminate the sugar in your mouth,” says Wellington, FL, cosmetic dentist Sam S. Sadati, DDS. “Your stomach might feel a little sick, but in terms of oral health, it’s the best way to go. If you snack on it little by little throughout the day, it produces acid in your mouth each time, which sits around until you brush your teeth. This destroys your tooth enamel and leads to the formation of cavities.”
And, if brushing your teeth right after eating candy isn’t an option, Dr. Grafman says to drink some water (not juice or soda) to flush the sugars away. “The bad bacteria in your mouth love sugar, so they come to feed on them. It’s best to brush your teeth, but water can help in the meantime.”
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