The worst (and best) sweets for your teeth - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

The worst (and best) sweets for your teeth

Posted:
Here's what you should know about which sweets are the worst -- and best -- for your teeth before you let your kids go candy-crazy. (©iStockphoto.com/Shannon Long) Here's what you should know about which sweets are the worst -- and best -- for your teeth before you let your kids go candy-crazy. (©iStockphoto.com/Shannon Long)


By Dr. Carolyn Taggart-Burns for Charge Up For Good Health
 

When trick-or-treaters ring my doorbell on Halloween, I toss a toothbrush in their bag. But make no mistake -- our neighborhood might as well be Candy Land. My kids got a scary amount of sweets last year, and they only went to a couple of houses. And because they were both too young to eat much of their loot, guess who was tempted by it? Yep, hubby (who has a major sweet tooth) and me, the dentist.

Luckily, trick-or-treating comes only once a year. But here's what you should know about which sweets are the worst -- and best -- for your teeth before you let your kids go candy-crazy on those special (and not-so-special) occasions. 

The Trickiest Treats

Sticky sweets

Gummy bears, fruit snacks (which aren't real fruit, by the way), fruit leather and caramels adhere to teeth -- so much so that they're practically impossible to get off without a good brushing and flossing. Until you can get to the sink, the sugar in these candies feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Sour candies

These are troublemakers for a different reason: They are high in acid, which erodes tooth enamel. A recent study at the University of Alabama found that 24 popular sour candies have a pH level between 1.6 and 3 -- anything below 4 causes damage. Brushing right away actually makes matters worse because you're scrubbing the acid onto your teeth. It's better to neutralize it first by drinking water or plain milk. Follow up with your brush about a half-hour later.

Not-so-scary Sweets

Lollipops and hard candies

These aren't as bad as you'd think because they stimulate saliva, which is your mouth's natural cleanser.

Chocolate

My personal fave, chocolate provides antioxidants called tannins (especially if you eat the dark kind), which may help prevent tooth decay. Of course, it also contains sugar (and lots of calories too), so you should still limit how much you eat.

Sugar-free gum

This is the only sweet treat that's actually good for your smile; it contains xylitol, a substance that prevents tooth decay.

Our Family's Strategy

We enjoy a couple of pieces of our favorite candy on special occasions like Halloween, then we brush or rinse to clean up our teeth. My office and many other dental practices across the country have Candy Buyback programs, where kids give up their sweets in exchange for a small amount of money. If your dentist doesn't have such a program, create your own. This way, the candy is out of the house, and your child has a few dollars to buy a new book, a pack of markers or a toy. Now that's sweet.

Dr. Carolyn Taggart-Burns is a spokeswoman for the Academy of General Dentistry and a family dentist in Omaha, Neb.

Copyright (c) 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

  • Success by 6More>>

  • Michael Anderson Elementary Wins Book Drive School Challenge

    Michael Anderson Elementary Wins Book Drive School Challenge

    Tuesday, August 20 2013 1:08 PM EDT2013-08-20 17:08:44 GMT
    Michael Anderson Elementary on the Fairchild Air Force Base took the Challenge- so did Windsor Elementary in the Cheney School District. Their mission -to collect books for the Success By 6 Book Bank.>>
    Michael Anderson Elementary on the Fairchild Air Force Base took the Challenge- so did Windsor Elementary in the Cheney School District. Their mission -to collect books for the Success By 6 Book Bank.>>
  • Got A Pre-schooler? Pick Up a Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

    Got A Pre-schooler? Pick Up a Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

    Tuesday, August 7 2012 7:48 PM EDT2012-08-07 23:48:39 GMT
    Got a Pre-schooler? Pick up the Kindergarten Readiness Calendar at any local library! Getting ready for Kindergarten starts long before your child sets foot in their Kindergarten classroom! That's>>
    Got a Pre-schooler? Pick up the Kindergarten Readiness Calendar at any local library! Getting ready for Kindergarten starts long before your child sets foot in their Kindergarten classroom! >>
  • Young Children Learn from Everyday Life

    Young Children Learn from Everyday Life

    Wednesday, August 10 2011 12:26 PM EDT2011-08-10 16:26:51 GMT
    They say kids don't come with an instruction manual, yet parents, especially new parents are bombarded with all kinds of advice from friends and family. There are books and websites offering endless lists, tips and tricks for parenting.  Jill Johnson, Communications Specialist for Family Resources at Community-Minded Enterprises and Success by 6 Board Member says you can teach your children with simple, everyday activities.>>
  • Want Your Child to Love Learning? Let Them Play!

    Want Your Child to Love Learning? Let Them Play!

    Wednesday, February 9 2011 2:08 PM EST2011-02-09 19:08:57 GMT
    Want your Preschooler to Love Learning? Let them play! Gwendolyn Haley, Spokane County Library District Youth Services Manager, and Success By 6 Board Member, says playtime is the most important part of a preschooler's day.>>
  • Your Baby: 2 Months

    Your Baby: 2 Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 5:59 PM EDT2012-03-13 21:59:50 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, host of our "Your Baby" series discusses the finer points of living with a 2 month old baby. >>
  • Your Baby: 4 Months

    Your Baby: 4 Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 6:19 PM EDT2012-03-13 22:19:00 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, gives parents an idea of what they can expect of their 4 month old baby.>>
  • Your Baby: Six Months

    Your Baby: Six Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 6:46 PM EDT2012-03-13 22:46:36 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, says child proofing the house is a priority in a house with a six month old baby.>>
  • What Book is just right for your New Reader?

    What Book is just right for your New Reader?

    Thursday, July 21 2011 4:31 PM EDT2011-07-21 20:31:53 GMT
    What book is just right for your new reader? Mary Ellen Braks, a Youth Services Manager with  the Spokane County Library District says it's an exciting time when your child is starting to learn how to read.>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.