Last week we discussed the candy that you should try to stay away from this Halloween. This week we’ll discuss “tooth friendly” candy. “Tooth friendly” candy is candy that is better for your teeth than some of the other options of candy on the market.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that can be used in place of sugar. Xylitol has a molecular structure similar to sugar. The bacteria in your mouth that normally metabolize sugar cannot metabolize xylitol. When you eat xylitol candy, the xylitol in the candy essentially starves your cavity causing bacteria. This process helps your teeth in several ways: for one, there are less cavity causing bacteria in your mouth. Additionally, the bacteria that cause cavities normally produce acid when metabolizing sugar. Without sugar, the pH in your mouth is not as low as it would be with normal sugar candy. Some studies show that xylitol helps raise the pH in your mouth as well as helping to remineralize your teeth. Our Evanston dentists recommend having a piece of xylitol candy after every meal to help raise the pH and help protect against enamel erosion.
Gum is a good candy choice for your teeth, as long as it is sugar-free or xylitol gum! Chewing gum helps stimulate saliva production. Saliva is your mouth’s best defense against cavities. Naturally occurring minerals that are found in your saliva help to remineralize your teeth. Also, increased saliva production helps raise the pH of your mouth and return it to a neutral state. Chewing gum after you eat can help prevent tooth decay. (Source)
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can be good for your teeth. The added sugar in chocolate candy is what may be harmful to your teeth. Xylitol chocolate is your best choice, as the xylitol, combined with the antioxidants in chocolate; help counteract the cavity causing bacteria in your mouth. There is even toothpaste that uses a compound from the cocoa bean to help strengthen tooth enamel.
No matter what candy you enjoy this Halloween, be aware of hard and sticky candy that can harm your teeth. Avoid snacking on candy throughout the day, as this doesn’t allow the pH in your mouth to return to neutral. Make sure you wait a half an hour after snacking on candy before brushing your teeth. Maybe, instead of snacking on candy; have a piece as dessert after your meal. This way you will not be subjecting your teeth to a decrease in pH between meals, which may cause additional enamel erosion. As we are a dental team with more than one sweet tooth, we know that candy is a delicious treat. Take the time to indulge sensibly to make sure your teeth and smile stay happy and healthy.