California Dental Hygienists Offer Tips for Cavity-Free Halloween

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Parents Should Be Vigilant About Children’s Intake of Sugar & Sour Candy

Sour candy can have an acid level on par with battery acid.

Sour candy is one of the most frightening of all Halloween treats. This new generation of candy is highly popular, but especially dangerous due to the high acid levels.

Parents should axe the sour candy and take other steps to protect their children’s teeth this Halloween, advises the California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA) as part of its public education campaign during National Dental Hygiene Month.

“Halloween and National Dental Hygiene Month go perfectly together,” said Ellen Standley, president of CDHA. “Where there is candy, there should also be practical information and tips for parents to protect the oral health of children.”

More children suffer from dental decay than from asthma. In fact, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, dental decay (cavities) is the most chronic disease of childhood. It affects 50% of children by middle childhood and 70% by late adolescence.

Excessive consumption of candy creates the perfect recipe for tooth decay. All candy is not created equal. Sour candy is worse. This candy has an acid content on par with battery acid and has the power to cause even more damage to your teeth than regular sweets.
“Sour candy is one of the most frightening of all Halloween treats, “Standley said. This new generation of candy is highly popular, but especially dangerous due to the high acid levels.

Sour candy comes in dozens of varieties and forms including hard, soft, chewy, gummy, gels, liquid sprays, crystals, foam sprays, powders, cotton candy and chewing gums. Most people think this type of candy is safer but it is not. With repeated exposure and frequency, sour candy can also lead to a host of oral health problems, including increased cavities, tooth sensitivity, staining, soft-tissue sensitivities and dulling of teeth, said Standley.

Because of this, and other dangers, CDHA is offering the following tips for parents and children this Halloween:

  •      Don’t suck on hard candy for a long period of time because this bathes the teeth with plaque acids and continues for 20 to 40 minutes after finishing;
  •      Limit the frequency of candy exposure—Surprisingly, four candy bars eaten all at once cause less damage than one candy bar eaten over a long period of time. What counts is the number of times the teeth are exposed to sweets and how long they are in the mouth;
  •      Brush your teeth or rinse with water after eating candy or sweet treats;
  •      DO NOT brush your teeth directly after eating sour candy, as this will remove more of the already softened enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water immediately;
  •      Use fluoride toothpaste to help re-mineralize the areas of the tooth broken down by the acid. Nightly, over the counter fluoride rinses help prevent the formation of cavities too;
  •      Avoid or limit contact with candy labeled “sour or tart”. Remember that “sour” means “acid”;
  •      Look for the following acids on the back label of ingredients and avoid them: “citric”, “lactic”, “malic”, “tartaric”, fumaric, adipic, ascorbic.

“Long after the scary costumes are put away, the horror of cavities remain,” said CDHA’s Standley. “Parents can let their children enjoy some candy, but just do it in a responsible way.”

Parents can also ask their dental hygienist or go to, for more information about preventing tooth decay, the top chronic disease in children.

The California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA) is the authoritative voice of the state’s dental hygiene profession. The organization was established 25 years ago when two regional associations merged to form a unified professional group. CDHA represents thousands of dental hygienists throughout the state and is dedicated to expanding opportunities for the profession and access to care for all Californians. For more information, visit


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