Most people ration out the Halloween candy haul for weeks, but is that wise? After you eat sweets, bacteria feed on the sugars and starches left on your teeth and form plaque. Eventually, the acids in the plaque begin to wear away the enamel coating on your teeth, forming tiny holes (cavities) that grow larger and larger over time.
Eating all of your candy at once and then brushing your teeth after is actually less cavity-causing than parceling out your candy a little at a time each day (unless you plan to thoroughly brush your teeth after each daily treat—something that’s unrealistic for most of us.) From a cavity-causing perspective, the bacteria have a limit to how fast they can make acids—at some point there’s a threshold where they can’t make any more—whether you have one piece of candy or five.
In school, they used to have me state that each sugar exposure causes 20 minutes of acid production in your mouth. So eating one Lifesaver until it is gone is 20 minutes. If you then put a second one in, it’s another 20 minutes, and so on, totaling quite a few hours of acid production. But if you put the whole roll of Lifesavers in your mouth all at once, it would only be 20 minutes of acid production.
What may surprise you is that the treats that are most tooth friendly are those made of chocolate. Chocolate-based candy melts quickly in the mouth. Hard candies, gummies, candy corn and other sticky candies tend to last longer and/or stick to teeth where they are more likely to cause cavities.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who treats both children and adults at her dental office located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940.