Halloween can be an incredibly fun time for kids and adults alike. However, the not-so-fun part is developing cavities later on because of that Halloween candy. Sugar is directly related to tooth decay, but it’s even worse if you have braces on your teeth. There are specific candies you should try to avoid if you have brackets and wires, as they can get stuck easier. Find out what these are and tips to reduce your risk for tooth decay during the holidays!
How Popular Is Halloween?
About $2.4 billion dollars is spent in Easter candy each year. However, Halloween candy is a close second at around $2.1 billion in sales. Divided up into individual households, that’s about $44-$47 dollars spent on Halloween candy in each household.
If you think Halloween candy sales are scary, here are the facts on the actual candy consumed on Halloween day itself:
- Almost all children and at least ½ of all adults eat candy on Halloween day.
- However, the amount of candy consumed is well-past the recommended 6 or less teaspoons children should have in a day. Adults should only have between 6 and 9 teaspoons of sugar (tops) per day. On Halloween itself, up to 3 cups of candy is consumed per child.
- That equates to about 48 teaspoons of sugar per cup, or about 144 teaspoons of sugar, or 675 grams of sugar in one day.
- USA Today reports that 4% of all the candy eaten in the U.S. is eaten on Halloween day.
- Reader’s Digest reports that the amount of calories children and adults alike eat on Halloween equals anywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 calories.
- Not only can this much sugar lead to incredible health problems and diabetes, but sugar—the main ingredient in that candy—is the direct cause of tooth decay.
How Can Candy Hurt Your Teeth?
Candy is damaging to your teeth because of the sugar, which is a direct factor in your risk for tooth decay. The more sugar you eat, the more cavities you could get. When you eat or drink, sugars in food will mix with certain bacterias in your mouth. That mixture will create a sticky substance called plaque. You can’t simply swallow that plaque either. It sticks to your teeth and becomes an acidic substance when it mixes.
Because it’s acidic, as it sticks to your tooth enamel like a film, it will work to erode and decay your teeth. It does this by breaking up the minerals that make up your tooth enamel layer. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth often enough, or you eat a ton of sugar, you have plaque working hard on your teeth to destroy them.
Plaque can decay your tooth surface to create surface cavities. If enough decay happens on that layer, it can get through to the inner layers of the teeth, causing internal (and sometimes large) cavities that can turn into infections and tooth loss. Sugar is the main food for plaque, which is why candy—whose main ingredient is sugar—can hurt your teeth.
Avoiding Specific Sweet Treats with Braces
Anyone can get cavities and other oral health problems from a large candy or sugar consumption. You don’t only have to worry about candy either when it comes to cavities—you have to worry about all foods. Most foods you can buy at the store have added sugars in them. That includes juices, sports drinks, and sodas, as well as the obvious sugar foods like candy, cakes, ice cream and cookies. Always check food labels to see how much sugar a food contains.
There are specific foods you want to avoid if you wear braces, as those foods and candies can make it much easier for you to get cavities. Especially at Halloween, popular candies are ones that are chewy and sticky. Anything chewy and sticky will get stuck in your brackets and wires if you wear lingual, ceramic or metal braces. Sweet treats you want to avoid if you wear braces include:
- Gum: Gum is made to be elastic and sticky and can stick to brackets like crazy. Avoid it completely with braces. After your braces are off, chew sugar-free gum.
- Chewy/Sticky Candy: Examples include caramels, taffy, Tootsie Rolls, Starburst, licorice, Skittles, Sugar Daddies and any candies that are similar. Avoid fruit snacks, gummies and dried fruit as well, which are all incredibly sticky.
- Hard Candies: These go hand-in-hand with suckers and mints. All of these candies expose your teeth to sugars for prolonged periods of time, which means a prolonged risk for acidic plaque and tooth decay.
- Sodas/Citrus Drinks: These and any carbonated drinks all contain either citric acid or carbonic acid, which erode the teeth. That can mean you have tooth erosion and decay all around your brackets, which will be very noticeable when your braces come off.
Enjoy Some Sweetness This Halloween
When it comes to Halloween, we want all of our patients to have fun and to enjoy the holiday. Candy is naturally a part of that holiday, but it doesn’t mean that you have to experience tooth decay in the weeks following it. Every person needs to be conscious of their candy consumption on Halloween to avoid tooth decay, erosion and health problems in general.
You don’t want to work hard for 18-24 months getting a straight smile if it’s decayed when your braces finally come off. Enjoy your Halloween sweet treats, but be mindful of your oral health. Brush your teeth 3 times a day or after every meal with fluoride toothpaste. Floss your teeth at least 1-2 times a day. Avoid sticky and sugary treats and clean the teeth very well if you do eat them at Halloween. Avoid acidic drinks and watch your sugar consumption. For tips on cleaning your teeth correctly with braces to avoid tooth decay, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!