If elementary school health class and pop culture have taught us one thing about dental care, it’s that candy rots our teeth. Considering that’s common knowledge, you’d think dentists would decide to forgo the candy for Halloween trick-or-treating. Nope. According to a survey by the American Dental Association, more than 76 percent of dentists give out some type of candy for the spooky holiday — and one sweet treat is favored over others.
“Halloween is about candy, dressing up and having fun,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween as a splurge as long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day all year long.”
The reason? Bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and other leftover food in your mouth, producing an acid that can contribute to cavities.
So which type of candy do dentists opt to hand out themselves? According to the ADA, chocolate is the best bet because it is easiest to wash off your teeth. Not only that, but chocolate contains oils that can decrease the types of bacteria that cause cavities, an ADA spokesperson told Today. And if you’re looking for an even better option, dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate.
And what does the ADA suggest you avoid giving out to trick-or-treaters?
If chocolate is a good option because it washes off easily, then it makes sense that sticky and gummy candies — which get stuck in all your teeth’s nooks and crannies — are not ideal.
Similarly, the ADA suggests skipping hard candy because accidentally (or purposely) chewing on them can break your teeth, and the fact that you’re sucking on them for longer periods of time means that the bacteria have even more time to infiltrate your chompers. Sour candy is another one to avoid since the acid that gives it its appealing tart taste can also weaken your tooth enamel, making you more vulnerable to cavities.
So go on and celebrate Halloween with some candy, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water (it helps keep your mouth cleaner between brushings) and floss and brush regularly.
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