These Are the Best—and Worst—Types of Halloween Candy for Your Teeth
Dark chocolate fans, we have good news.
‘Tis the season for over-indulging in candy, which—as we’re all well aware—can cause tooth damage. This doesn’t mean you or your little ones need to forego the trick-or-treat bowl, though. According to Anita Imadomwanyi, DDS, the director of clinical support and charitable giving at Aspen Dental, some sweets are far worse for your teeth than others.
“Over-indulging in candy can result in serious tooth-related injuries like fractured roots, cavities, sore gums, and cracked teeth,” Dr. Imadomwanyi says. "That being said, there are plenty of treats that won’t do serious dental damage."
Here are the best and worst types of Halloween candy for your teeth, according to Dr. Imadomwanyi. (And I solemnly swear we won’t suggest handing out carrots and celery sticks).
Dr. Imadomwanyi says the worst forms of candy for your pearly whites are as follows:
Sour gummies: These types of candies are among the worst because they’re both sticky and acidic, which can cause tooth enamel to break down or weaken—and make one more susceptible to cavities.
Hard sucking candies: Having to suck on them means exposing your teeth to sugar longer. This prolonged contact allows bad bacteria to use the sugar in the candy as fuel that can make you more vulnerable to cavities and build plaque. Both of these can leave you at risk of chipping teeth, restorations, or gum irritation. The sharpness of the hard candies can cause irritation of the gums, too.
Taffy/Caramels: These are sticky and really difficult to remove from the teeth. They can get caught between teeth and into the grooves and fissures (narrow grooves), thus again with prolonged contact of sugars on the teeth. Detrimental bacteria will use the sugars in these sweets as fuel, which can make one more vulnerable to cavities and build plaque.
If you’re looking to pass out candy or stock the office candy jar with something that won’t damage everyone’s dentures, Dr. Imadomwanyi recommends leaning in to pre-packaged snack bags (like crackers, chips, or Goldfish), flavored honey sticks, or fruit leathers over traditional candy or gummies.
She also says that chocolate, peanut butter, and softer non-sticky candies are smarter options because they dissolve fairly quickly and are less destructive to the enamel and teeth. Additionally, candies or gum sweetened with Xylitol are sugarless and stimulate saliva production, which naturally helps cleanse the teeth of debris. The lower acid and sugar content prevents bacteria from causing cavities, too.
But the real dentist-friendly sweet spot? Dark chocolate, because it naturally contains less sugar.
How to Care for Your Mouth After Eating Halloween Candy
According to Dr. Imadomwanyi, it’s best to consume the candy after meals as opposed to throughout the day in order to prevent prolonged sugar contact to teeth. It’s also smart to brush and floss immediately after consuming treats. And of course, see your dentist for routine check-up and hygiene care every six months.
Toys Can Be Treats, Too
If alternative snacks and dark chocolate don’t hit the sweet spot for the younger crowd, try toys instead of treats. Kid-friendly gifts like bouncy balls, stickers, bubbles, and glow bracelets are all candy-free crowd-pleasers. If you’re looking for something more festive, Halloween-themed prizes like vampire teeth, spider rings, and spooky tattoos will put a *healthy* smile on every kid's face.