Today, trick-or-treaters will be on a mission to collect as many pieces of candy as they can. Meanwhile, the adults in their lives will spend part of their evening wondering just exactly how much dental damage Halloween candy can cause. Fortunately, experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Dentistry say that one night of a candy binge is nothing to worry about.
“The good news is that one night of candy and celebration will not cause a child to have cavities, so we really encourage parents and their children to just have fun,” said Steve Mitchell, DMD, director of the Sparks Dental Clinic at UAB. “The problem with Halloween candy arises when it continues to get eaten for weeks following Halloween. On November 1, the Halloween ‘stash’ needs to be thrown out or at least controlled by an adult so only one piece of candy gets eaten each day.”
While Mitchell encourages parents to let their children have fun Halloween night, he points out that some candies could be worse for teeth than others.
“When it comes to candy, sticky and sour candies that stick around in the mouth for a long time tend to be the worst type of candy for your teeth,” Mitchell said. “Chocolate tends to do the least amount of damage to the teeth, because it melts away quickly and does not normally stay in the mouth for a long time.”
Of course, Mitchell says, dental decay is a chronic disease that happens over a long period of time, partially as a result of constant exposure to sugary treats. A pack or two of sour gummies or a few pieces of hard candy on Halloween alone is not going to cause long-term problems. After Halloween, children should return to their normal dental routine, including brushing twice a day, flossing, maintaining a healthy diet and visiting their dentists regularly.
“Candy in moderation is not a bad thing,” Mitchell said. “Indulging on special occasions like holidays and birthdays is not going to ruin your teeth. Just have fun and enjoy it, but stick to your dental health routine regularly.”
UAB Dentistry provides quality, comprehensive general and specialty oral health care for you and your family. Make an appointment today at uab.edu/dentistry.