I wasn’t expecting dentists to come out and sanction my kids eating fistfuls of Halloween candy, but here we are. It’s not that eating candy is good for teeth. However, if you’re going to eat lots of candy it’s better to do it all at once. Here comes the science:
Slowly snacking on Halloween candy every few hours, day after day, keeps your teeth bathed in enamel-corroding acid, the byproduct of bacteria feeding on sugar and other carbohydrates in your mouth. This leads to dental caries, or cavities.
For example, as far as oral hygiene goes, it is better to eat five candy bars at once than to eat one every few hours. In the first scenario, acid will build up in your mouth, but your saliva will naturally neutralize this over the course of an hour or so. And then that acid is gone. In the second scenario, you are constantly exposing your teeth to acid throughout the day, too much for saliva to wash away.
Gorging also is better, because it is more likely to be followed by tooth-brushing. People, and especially children, are less likely to brush their teeth after every candy bar, particularly if they aren’t at home.
That makes some sense, I suppose. But that might not even be the most surprising bit of information in the article. Ready to have your mind blown? Potato chips are worse for your teeth than chocolate:
Candy is not necessarily the worst thing for your teeth, anyway. The factors that really lead to cavities are stickiness and acidity. Potato chips and pretzels, for example, are worse offenders than chocolate, because these cooked carbohydrates cling to your teeth — giving mouth bacteria something to feast on longer and thus generating more acid.
Although it sounds counterintuitive, substituting chocolate for so-called healthier chips or fruit chews is actually worse for the teeth.
That doesn’t mean that some candy isn’t really bad for your teeth. For instance, because acidity is a big factor in cavities, gummy sours are really bad for your kids’ teeth.
However, even if Dentists sanction gorging on Halloween candy, that doesn’t mean nutritionists feel the same way. All the latest information suggests that refined sugar is bad for you and your kids… really bad. As ever, moderation in all things is probably good advice.