Halloween’s coming up, and according to the California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA), there’s one kind of treat that’s scarier than others: sour candy. This is due to the fact that “most of it contains acid levels so high that it approaches the pH level of battery acid.”
“This Halloween, we are advising adults to think twice about buying sour candies for trick-or-treaters,” said Erika Feltham, a Registered Dental Hygienist and CDHA member who has studied this issue for more than a decade. “We also are encouraging parents to comb through their child’s bag at the end of the night to remove sour acid candies and replace them with a small piece of non-sour sugarless candy or gum.”
Sour candy comes in dozens of varieties and forms including hard, soft, chewy, gummy, gels, liquid sprays, crystals, foam sprays, powders, cotton candy and chewing gums. Most people think this type of candy is safer because it has less sugar, said Feltham, but they don’t know that the acid content is toward the extreme end of the acidic spectrum.
“It is not at all surprising that this candy is a contributing factor to acid erosion,” she said. “With repeated exposure and frequency, sour candy can also lead to a host of oral health problems, including increased cavities, tooth sensitivity, staining, soft-tissue sensitivities and loss of shine.”
If you choose to give out candy to trick-or-treaters this year, we recommend that you not only avoid sour candy, but also chewy candies that tend to stick to the teeth and hard candies, which many of us tend to suck against the teeth, intensifying and lengthening the sugar exposure. So if you want to hand out sweets, non-chewy chocolate candies are your best bet.
For those with children and who choose to let them eat sweets, we also suggest that when it comes time for them to eat their Halloween haul, you have them brush their teeth beforehand, as well as after, as this will further reduce the level of acidity they’re exposed to, minimizing the risk of biofilm build-up and eventual decay.