Top Five Candies Your Kids Should Avoid

Are you ready? Because it’s coming: All Hallow’s Eve.

Like most other events this year, Halloween might look a bit different. But it’s still an exciting and fun holiday for families.

While there’s a lot of fun to be had, as parents, we still have the responsibility of being… well… responsible. I get asked by patients every year what candies to “avoid.”

I’m a dentist with two boys, so I can’t rain on their parade all year. During this time I relax the candy rules a little bit and let them enjoy. 

One fourth of all candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween. And according to a survey by the ADA, two-thirds (65%) of children think Halloween is the best holiday of the year. So odds are that if you have kids, they’ll be chowing down on the sugary stuff very soon.

Like I mentioned above, you probably don’t want to deprive them of their sweet treats completely. So, to keep in the spirit of the holiday and remain responsible, here’s a list of 5 candies you’ll want to encourage them to avoid.

Sticky Candy

Sticky candy might be the number one culprit of cavities. This includes gummy worms and bears, Tootsie Rolls, Nerds Ropes, Starbursts, AirHeads, and taffy. The more time sugar spends on your children’s teeth, the more time it has to wreak havoc. This means that the stickier the candy, the worse the effect. 

Dried Fruit

This is a sneaky one. Many think dried fruit is a great alternative to candy, but it’s full of sugar and can be just as sticky as taffy! Fresh fruit is much better for your teeth than dried fruit, so stick with that.

Hard Candy or Lollipops

When it comes to tooth decay, again, it’s all about the amount of time the teeth are exposed to sugar. Because hard candies, like jawbreakers, Jolly Ranchers, or lollipops, spend so much time in your children’s mouth, the sugar gets plenty of time to stick around. Increased exposure to sugar increases the likelihood of tooth decay, so avoid the hard candies.

Remember the old Tootsie Roll Pop commercials? They were right: It’s difficult not to bite into hard candies. This puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on teeth and can lead to chips or broken fillings. Unless you’re a cartoon owl from a 1980s candy ad, it’s better to avoid the temptation altogether.

Sour Candy

Just because a candy is sour doesn’t mean it isn’t still filled with sugar…it is. Plus, most sour candies are either sticky or hard candies, and you already know how I feel about those.  

And to top it all off, sour candy is extremely acidic and can weaken and dissolve tooth enamel very quickly. You’ll want your kids to steer clear of sour candies such as Lemon Heads, Sour Patch Kids, Sour Skittles, Warheads, Now & Later, and Trolli Brite Crawlers. 

Pixy Stix and Fun Dip

Sure, on one hand, they dissolve and wash away quickly, which means there’s less time for them to damage your teeth. On the other hand, they have pH levels that are so low — 1.9 and 1.8, respectively — that they’re almost as acidic as battery acid, according to a chart compiled by the Minnesota Dental Association. (Tooth decay begins at a pH of about 4.) 

But it’s not all scary. Here are a few tips for healthier Halloween teeth:

Eat more dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains calcium and relatively little sugar. It’s also made from cocoa beans, which have compounds that help harden enamel and fight bacteria and plaque.

Eat candy around mealtime

Most children will try to eat candy throughout the entire day, but eating candy around mealtime will help keep the mouth clean. Saliva production increases during mealtime, which in turn helps clean their teeth by removing the sugar and neutralizing the acid levels of their mouths.

Brush your teeth

Yes, it’s always important for kids to brush their teeth at least twice a day. During Halloween, take extra care to ensure they brush their teeth before bed and don’t eat candy afterwards.

While late-night candy binges might be tempting, allowing that sugar to sit on their teeth all night can (and probably will) cause tooth decay.

Final thoughts

In my house, the candies I tell my kids to avoid somehow end up being my favorites. Let them have their fun, but keep the above tips in mind and everyone in your household can enjoy Halloween candy with fewer risks.