Don’t Get ‘Tricked’ By Teeth-Damaging Halloween Treats

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There are a number of Halloween candies that can damage smiles. Here's some tips from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry on how to enjoy Halloween while avoiding a sticky situation.

Don’t get “tricked” by the sticky, sugary, and teeth-damaging potential of some Halloween treats this holiday season, says the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

Halloween is traditionally a time when consumers of all ages indulge in candy and sweets, whether it’s at Halloween-themed parties, or after trick-or-treating. While some of these treats might taste sweet, their potential to damage teeth can leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth.

Here are some treats to avoid, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of “trick or treating” this year:

  •     Sour candies (Sour Patch Kids and War Heads) – These candies cause the most damage because of high amounts of citric, fumaric, and malic acids, all which cause damage to tooth enamel.
  •     Milk duds – The caramel is super-sticky so it remains on the tooth for a long period of time increasing the exposure of sugar to teeth. Also, its stickiness can pull out crowns of fillings.
  •     Raisinets –While this may seem like a healthy choice, these chocolate-covered raisins are sticky and the sugar sticks to teeth for long time periods.
  •     M&Ms/Reese’s Pieces —These chocolate-covered treats are not as sticky as gummies and maybe a better choice, although the colored candy shell may stain teeth the more you eat. Peanut butter is also less sticky than some of the other candy options mentioned.
  •     Popcorn balls. Crunching down on an unpopped popcorn kernel is a common cause of painful dental fractures. Popcorn husks can also become lodged between the back teeth and the gums, often requiring a course of antibiotics to clear up the resulting infection after removal.

While it can be tough to avoid candy or sweets altogether when celebrating Halloween, there are some better treat alternatives.

  •     Dark chocolate is the least processed and closest to the cocoa bean, which contain tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids. Each of these is a strong antioxidant that benefits your mouth and teeth.
  •     If you have to have a sweet candy, one option might be Pixie Stix, which are poured directly on the tongue so you avoid chewing altogether. They are quickly consumed and out of the mouth before they can cause any major problems.
  •     Of course, sugar-free treats are becoming more common in grocery stores and supermarkets and flavors and varieties continue to improve. If you really want to make your dentist proud, choose a treat with little or no sugar.

“The reality is that even with their best intentions, most people will enjoy candy and treats to celebrate Halloween this year,” Dr. Ron Goodlin, AACD president. “But when you treat yourself with these Halloween goodies, be sure to drink some water afterward to help wash away some of the sugar and acids. Flossing also helps keep the spaces between teeth clean.”

About the AACD
The AACD is the world’s largest non-profit member organization dedicated to advancing excellence in comprehensive oral care that combines art and science to optimally improve dental health, esthetics, and function. Comprised of more than 6,400 cosmetic dental professionals in 70 countries worldwide, the AACD fulfills its mission by offering superior educational opportunities, promoting and supporting a respected Accreditation credential, serving as a user-friendly and inviting forum for the creative exchange of knowledge and ideas, and providing accurate and useful information to the public and the profession.


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Michael DiFrisco
American Academy of Dentistry
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