Dentists recommend better treats for your teeth this Halloween - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Dentists recommend better treats for your teeth this Halloween


MADISON (WKOW) -- Many of us (and our children) will be eating more sweets over the next couple of months, starting with Halloween this week.

Dentists usually get scared around Halloween, and not because of the spooky costumes, but because of what it does to their patients' teeth. One Madison dentist has some advice for people who are going to eat candy.

Dr. Christine Haag, a dentist with First Choice Dental, says that Halloween treats can be enjoyed, but there are some that are better than others. And, you might want to consider when you eat candy.

Dr. Haag says, "The bacteria in your mouth feeds on sugar to produce acid which causes tooth decay so it's important to choose treats that will dissolve more quickly, such as chocolate kisses or chocolate candies, rather than sticky, chewy treats, or candy with fillings. Chocolate may be high in sugar, but it will dissolve quickly in your mouth, and won't stick to your teeth for a long period of time." So, some candies that aren't so bad for your teeth, according to Dr. Haag: chocolate and powdery candy like Sweet Tarts or Pixy Stix.

Dr. Haag says you should try to avoid candies that are sticky or chewy. "Candies such as candy corn, taffy or caramel are more likely to stick to your teeth, which will cause the bacteria in your mouth to convert the sugar to acid, thereby encouraging tooth decay and cavities."   

Dr.Haag adds, "It is also important is to consider whether or not your trick-or-treaters have braces.  Soft chocolates or peanut buttercups are much better choices than hard or chewy candy or popcorn balls, which can damage braces and prolong treatment."

Dentists say it's also important to think about when you eat candy. Dr. Haag suggests eating Halloween candy as a dessert, and not in-between meals. At meal time, the saliva in the mouth is already working as a washing agent to remove food and sugar, according to Dr. Haag. Most importantly, she says, "Even after a late night of trick-or-treating or that Halloween bonfire, it's important to keep your good dental hygiene habits, and it's especially important to brush your teeth right before bed!"

Here is a checklist from Dr. Haag:

Better Treats for Your Teeth:   
 Will dissolve quickly, leaving little time for bacteria to convert sugar to acids, which leads to tooth decay and cavities (good choices are chocolate kisses, peanut butter cups, candy coated chocolates such as m&ms)
Powdery Candy  
Though full of sugar, this candy also dissolves quickly, leaving less sugar for bacteria to feed on and cause cavities (Sweet Tarts, sugar straws such as Pixy Stix)

Tricky (not so good) Treats for Your Teeth:
Candy with caramel or nougat fillings
Caramel and nougats stick to your teeth and can get caught in the grooves of your teeth.  The longer it stays, the better the chance the bacteria has of converting the sugar to acids to cause cavities (candy bars with sticky fillings and nougats)
Chewy or Sticky Candies
It's better to eat chocolate that will dissolve quickly rather that sticky or chewy candy that takes longer to eat and sticks to your teeth for longer periods of time (candy corn, caramel, or gummy candies)
Sour and Hard Candies
Sour candies have higher acid content, which creates a very acidic environment in the mouth, leading to a greater chance of tooth decay; hard candies again take longer to eat and dissolve, so the sugar remains in your mouth for longer periods of time. (Lemon drops, Skittles, Jolly Ranchers and lollipops)


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