Trick or Treat: What a Dentist Gives Out for Halloween
When Aaron Myers, DDS, was a kid, Halloween was one of his favorite days of the year. He’s a fan still, welcoming witches, Spiderman, and other trick-or-treaters to his home. He also enjoys a certain chocolate-covered wafer or two.
As a dentist he knows well the havoc this holiday causes teeth. No, he’s not the guy handing out apples or mini pretzels. But he does have advice for kids, parents, and anyone else who likes a treat.
The worst candy for your teeth
“There are a lot of contenders for worst thing about Halloween for your teeth, but I’d probably pick any of the sour chewy candies,” says Myers, a pediatric dentist at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
Why sour chewy candies are the worst: Sour chewy candies are acidic, which starts to break down the enamel of teeth. They’re high in sugar and, worse, they stick to your teeth. The longer something stays on your teeth, the more damage it does.
On Halloween, and in general, stay away from anything chewy that can get stuck in your teeth and hard candy that stays in your mouth for longer periods of time.
The best candy for your teeth
You’re not going to find a health professional who supports the notion of best when it comes to candy, but when it comes to Halloween, candy is the deal. Myers says dark chocolate is “less bad.” And dark chocolate is exactly what trick-or-treaters at the Myers home will get.
Why dark chocolate is the best: It’s easier to get chocolate off your teeth and dark chocolate has less sugar than other sweets.
Halloween candy emergencies for your teeth
Most of the dental damage that happens on Halloween is not revealed that night (the impact of sugar and acid is cumulative). But Myers has seen many an emergency from chewy candy pulling out fillings and crowns and broken teeth from biting on hard candy, like lollipops.
How to survive Halloween’s impact on teeth
It’s pretty simple to protect your teeth after candy consumption: Brush your teeth and floss really well before going to bed (like your usual dental routine, with extra time and care). For children, says Myers, that means an adult should help make sure the teeth are clean.
Myers recommends keeping Halloween candy for only a day or two. “Do not let candy stay around the home for weeks or even months. Pick a couple of your favorites and get rid of the rest,” says Myers.
Aaron Myers, DDS, is a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry and dental surgery. He is assistant professor of dental medicine in the Division of Pediatric Dentistry at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
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