The Impact of “Scary” and “Sweet” Candy on Your Teeth

It’s finally that time of the year, the leaves are falling, the weather is getting cooler, and Halloween is right around the corner! With the spooky season rapidly approaching you should know which candies are “scary” for your teeth and which ones are “sweet”.

The “Scary” Candy

  • Sticky and gummy candies (Laffy Taffy, gummy bears, caramel)
  • Hard candy (jawbreakers, lollipops, Jolly Ranchers)
  • Sour candy (Lemon Heads, War Heads, Sour Patch Kids)
  • Popcorn balls

These “scary” candies can cause a whole monster of problems from enamel loss to tooth damage. The sticky/gummy candies adhere to your teeth giving the sugar time to seep into all those nooks and crannies. beware-candy.jpgHard candy sits in your mouth slowly coating your teeth in sugar and can crack or break teeth as you chew them. The sour candies are super acidic and break down the enamel, weakening your teeth and making them more susceptible to cavities. Treats like popcorn balls have sharp kernels that can cause bleeding gums and other painful sores in your mouth.

The “Sweet” Candy

  • Semi-Sweet and dark chocolate
  • Candy bars with nuts
  • Any fun-sized candy bars

Now, any candy not in moderation can be harmful. However, these “sweet” candies are a safer bet for your teeth and gums. The chocolate and candy bars with nuts can be quickly and easily rinsed out with saliva or water. The fun-sized candy bars are smaller portions which means less sugar while satisfying your cravings!

Speaking of sugar, it can have a pretty sinister effect on your teeth, enamel and your gums. In our mouths, we have bacteria that when introduced to sugar, creates acid. The acid can stick around for up to 20 minutes! Be sure to eat the whole candy instead of munching on it to prevent further damage. Sugar also lowers the PH balance in our mouths making it more acidic. This acid can bond to and erode your enamel, Scary right? demineralization.jpgThis process is called demineralization, luckily our saliva is a base, so it helps prevent and restore some of the damage done in a process called remineralization.

Over time this acid wears our enamel down so much that the sugar can seep into our teeth causing cavities. When these cavities are left untreated, they can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. According to the ADA (American Dental Association), 91% percent of Americans over 20 have had cavities and 27% of them have experienced tooth decay.

Those are some spooky statistics! Thankfully there are some steps you can take to prevent the sugar from doing too much harm to those pearly whites. We suggest that after eating those “scary” treats, you chew some sugar-free gum. The sugar-free gum absorbs some of the acidic gunk stuck to your teeth, lessening its harmful effects on your enamel. It is also wise to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush. This keeps the sugar and acid from being ground into your enamel which can cause even more damage.

Always remember whether the candy is “scary” or “sweet” to eat in moderation, AND brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day also helps. Keep those beautiful teeth happy and healthy, schedule your dental check-up today!

 

Dr. Ernesto Mireles

Greenfield and Salinas Dental Implant Center

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

The Dangers of Crunchy Munchies

Blog Title-Hard Candy2

Easter means many things to different families everywhere, but one thing that remains consistent is the appearance of candy! Whether it’s hidden in eggs or just passed around, it comes at a nice nearly halfway mark in the year from Halloween. Sweets make for some excellent treats, and there is no reason not to indulge (in moderation of course)! However, all candies are not created equal, and it may be worth knowing which ones you can have relatively guilt free, and which could spell trouble for your wonderful smile.

When it comes to Easter indulgences, chocolate may make it onto the nice list – we know, this is great news to many of you. The less forgiving candies are the ones that make that all-too-familiar CRUNCH! Hard candies, like lollipops or jolly ranchers, can be an awfully tempting treat to bite. But best case scenario is they can pack hard-to-reach pieces of sugar into your gums that end up sitting there, as saliva can have a difficult time breaking them down. Worst case scenario, that crunch sound may be coming from a broken tooth, and sending you straight from your Sunday activities into our office.

We do love seeing our patients, but not at the expense of their healthy smile! It happens more often than you think, and it’s not just because of the sugar – even some who are prone to absentmindedly crunching on ice have discovered the dangers of biting down on crunchy munchies when they find a piece of their tooth broken off. Your teeth are durable for normal eating and chewing, but anything that causes too much stress can run the risk of chipping or breaking one of your pearly whites. Before you try to impress your friends with breaking that jaw breaker in half, remember that it’s earned that name for a pretty good reason.

Even if you resist that satisfying crunch, there are still a few other points of concern for hard candies that you don’t run into with other options (like chocolate!). Hard candies that you suck on tend to spend a concentrated period of time in a single location, which over-exposes particular areas of your mouth to sugar and lead to a very concentrated build-up of acid, which can be a quick way to damage the enamel. Consider this next time you find yourself unwrapping that tootsie pop or after-meal mint, and perhaps enjoy a stick of gum instead. It’s not often that the solution for a sweet treat is yet another sweet treat, but you’re in luck because this time it is! After enjoying your holiday treats, consider enjoying a piece of sugar-free gum – the increased saliva productions while chewing can actually help dislodge and break down the remaining sugar in your mouth.
Overall, we don’t want to take the enjoyment out of candy-filled holidays – enjoy your time with your friends and family, and definitely don’t be afraid to pop open that plastic egg and see what treats hide inside. If you do find yourself going crazy for the crunchy candies, we hope you chew safely…and if things go wrong, you always have your friends at our office to set things straight (:

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

5 Candy Alternatives That Will Keep Trick-or-Treaters Smiling

halloween-kidThe fall season brings an amazing amount of fun activities for you and your family. From the excitement of Halloween, to school fall festivals; kids and parents alike look forward to the cool weather and family memories. Unfortunately, Halloween and fall festivals can also do a number on your child’s teeth. Hard candies, sweet treats and sugary snacks can be cavities waiting to happen. Handing out Halloween candy doesn’t mean you have to hand out oral health disasters. There are a number of healthy alternatives to the candy bars and licorice- some that trick-or-treaters might even enjoy more than the sugar rush. The days of handing out apple slices and pennies to avoid contributing to tooth destruction are gone! Take a look at some of these creative trick-or-treat alternatives that will leave all the little ghosts and ghouls smiling throughout the year.

Applesauce Pouches

Applesauce is still a sweet treat, and not nearly as hard on the teeth. Not only that, they’re portable, affordable and a great way to avoid the mess of some other treats. You can get a pack of 48 pouches for about 35 dollars on Amazon, which is enough to give all the trick-or-treaters something healthy to smile about.

Mini LaraBars

Larabars are gluten free, vegan, kosher and only have about 8-11 grams of sugar per bar. They also come in mini form, making them perfect to hand out on Halloween. The great thing about these treats is that the kids won’t even know they’re healthy! LaraBars have flavors such as cherry pie, apple pie and cashew cookie and are just as delicious as the other mini candy bars that will be weighing down their bag. If you can’t find LaraBars, or they’re a little too pricey for you, granola bars of any kind will be a better choice than chocolate.

Vegan Rice Crispy Treats

Rice crispy treats are a delicious sweet treat for trick-or-treaters, but you don’t have to use all the sugary marshmallow to make them amazing. There are a number of recipes you can follow which swap out a few classic ingredients for something a little healthier in order to create the perfect Halloween snack. By using brown rice syrup instead of marshmallow, brown rice crisps instead of white rice and coconut oil instead of butter- you can make delicious, healthy treats that many claim are better than the original. Check out one the recipes here.

Sugar Free Gum

While sugar free gum may not be the most exciting item in your child’s bag, it’s still a quality alternative to all the junk they’ll be getting. You can get tasty sugar free gum such as Dubble Bubble and throw a few pieces in along with other healthy treats. Parents will appreciate the lack of sugar, and the kids (especially those kids who love their chewing gum) will be happy with a full bag of “candy.”

Toys

If you want to skip the food items altogether, many parents have opted to hand out toys instead. There are a number of items you can get in bulk for cheap such as pencils, erasers, stickers, mini water guns, temporary tattoos, mini play dough, sidewalk chalk, bouncing balls, bubbles and more. The possibilities are endless and none of these things will land your child in the dentist’s chair. If you’re thinking of skipping the candy and handing out toys, head to your local dollar store to find amazing deals on bulk items.

There’s also the option of handing out pre-made veggie and fruit snacks, however this may only be a good idea if you’re close with the surrounding neighbors. Parents are often a little leery of pre-prepared snacks and the time and money you spent might simply end up in the trash. These days there really are dozens of candy alternatives that don’t skimp on the flavor. Do your own research to find what works best for you and your family, have fun with it, and get everyone involved. Keep in mind that most trick-or-treaters will be over-flowing with the sugary stuff- so its good practice as a parent and oral health advocate to provide something that will keep their smiles healthy throughout the year.

Dr. Ernesto Mireles

Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524