Trick or Teeth


When Halloween rolls around, school children everywhere don costumes and set out to ask friends and neighbors for candy. It’s a funny tradition, but we all join in by picking up a few bags of candy at the market to hand out to our little guests.

As we all know, the candy doesn’t all end up in the trick-or-treat bags. We might sneak a few samples before the trick-or-treaters arrive. (Quality control!) Or, there may be candy leftover after the Halloween visitors, which we promptly throw in the trash, or have as treats for ourselves. (You decide. We won’t judge.)

 Double whammy: a hard candy followed by a sticky one.

Double whammy: a hard candy followed by a sticky one.

Either way, Halloween candy purchases are here to stay, so we’re going to review some things which can help you pick candy that will do the least damage to your teeth. We’re starting with the notion that you’re already brushing and flossing regularly.

There are three that the American Dental Association warns about: sticky, hard, and sour candies. (They also say to avoid popcorn balls, but those aren’t technically candy.)

Sticky candy

Sticky candy sticks between your teeth and on the gum line, where it can linger and cause damage to your teeth. The harder the stickiness, the more it’s likely to cause problems, making hard caramel like Sugar Daddy suckers.

Another option that counts as ‘sticky’ is dried fruit. Anyone who has ever wrestled with a bit of raisin stuck between their teeth is nodding.

Hard candy

Hard candy is wicked for two reasons: the first is that, because the person sucks on it, it lingers in the mouth and the sugar washes over the teeth for an extended period. Even worse, a person can be tempted to bite into it, and biting into a hard candy can chip or break a tooth.

As a note here, there are combinations of hard-and-sticky candy, such as a Tootsie Pop, which is a double whammy for teeth, because after biting into the hard candy, the sticky chocolate goo follows and lingers.

“Do people eat these?” asked one Flickr user, but also noted, “Over the course of my childhood, I probably ate hundreds of them. And I have a mouthful of fillings to prove it…”

 Buyer beware! These and Bit-o-Honey candies will pull your fillings right out, necessitating a visit to your  friendly dentist .

Buyer beware! These and Bit-o-Honey candies will pull your fillings right out, necessitating a visit to your friendly dentist.

Sour candy

Sour candy on the frownie list may come as a bit of a surprise. But sour candy is acidic, and the acid likes to burn through tooth enamel, making it an unfriendly tooth option.

Combining sour with sticky, such as sour gummy worms, is another double whammy for teeth.

Friendlier alternatives

One option for friendly candy which might surprise you is chocolate. It’s smooth, doesn’t stick, and can be easily rinsed away. It isn’t perfect but is a better option than sticky, hard, or sour choices.

Sugarless candy

Sugarless candy and gum can be a great option, and this link offers the best ones, along with ratings and reviews. While not everyone tolerates sugarless candy well, it’s a terrific alternative if you don’t want sugar in your candy dish.

Happy Halloween, everybody! Don’t forget to brush and floss!

If you need a gentle, caring dental team, please call our office at (623) 362-2550. We’ll give you the very best dental care we can!