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Sweet or Sour? Candy or Raisins?

October 28, 2014

Halloween is just around the corner, and is a time of year when many people will indulge in their favorite candies. As you may know, what you eat has an effect on your teeth and in turn your overall health. Many candies can be much worse for your dental health than others, but do you know which ones? Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind about sweets and treats.

Sour or Acidic Foods

Sour candies are very acidic and according to a study by the Minnesota Dental Association, some even have pH levels (a measure of acidity in foods) close to the level of battery acid. Many sour candies are designed to be sucked on for a long period of time, which can be even more damaging to teeth.

Similarly, soda and sports drinks are high in acidity and sugars, and even diet sodas contain acids that can damage tooth enamel. Acid attacks on your teeth last about 20 minutes, and each attack starts over with every sip you take. Steady consumption of these beverages is strongly linked to tooth decay.

Fruits and vegetables are smart choices for your health. However, some might not be so good for your teeth. Acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits and pickles can damage tooth enamel. Don’t let these foods linger in your mouth, but rather swallow them as soon as they are thoroughly chewed.

It is recommended you limit your intake of acidic foods and soda and avoid sour candies. A quick swish of milk or water can help to neutralize acids after consuming acidic or sour foods.

Sweet Treats

It’s important to avoid foods that contain large amounts of sugars that will adhere to your teeth such as sticky or hard candies, taffy, caramels, cookies, cakes and muffins. According to the ADA, when these foods are consumed the bacteria in your mouth feed off these sugars, releasing acids which can lead to tooth decay.

Because of their sweet and sticky qualities, raisins were long believed to promote tooth decay. However research from the University of Illinois at Chicago shows they may not be as bad as we thought. Raisins contain fructose and glucose, but not sucrose, which some experts believe is the key culprit of sugar-related oral diseases.

While they don’t necessarily contain bad sugars, raisins still consist of about 60% sugars by weight. As with other sweets, practice moderation and brush and floss your teeth after consuming raisins or other dried fruits, which often have added sugars.

Be Smart About Candy Choices

Some dentists do not hand out candy on Halloween, but Delta Dental found that nearly 60% do partake in the annual candy giveaway. Of those who hand it out, 79% of dentists choose plain chocolate bars. So be smart about your candy choices this Halloween, and remember to brush and floss after enjoying your treats. Happy Halloween!