We all remember drooling over our friends’ othodonically catastrophic candies during the metal mouth years, but the days of dental concerns dictating our candy choices are long gone, right? Well, as much as we wish those sugar worries were trapped away in our middle school trapper keepers (along with any photo evidence of us in braces), they’re not.
These days, your candy woes go beyond what might get stuck in a bracket to long-term effects you’ll be dealing with for years, like cavities and tooth decay. When you eat candy, bacteria in your month burn the sugar and create acid as a byproduct, according to Dr. Matthew Messina, DDS, of the American Dental Association. That acid dissolves tooth enamel, which is what can cause cavities.
Considering the pounds of candy in your trick or treat stockpile, the sugar-high days of Halloween are down right terrifying for your teeth. It’s a given that sweets are the main ingredient for a happy Halloween, so we’re not saying you have to give up all the fun. You should, however, consider avoiding the biggest cavity culprit of them all: caramels.
We know, there’s nothing like grandma’s coffee table bowl of caramels or a Jack-o-lantern stacked with Simply Caramel Milky Ways, but these sticky sweets are the worst possible Halloween candy for your teeth. Chewy caramels linger in your mouth and cling to your teeth, leaving your pearly whites exposed tooth decay for an extended period of time. Even worse, they can pull out fillings, bridges, and other mouth appliances.
WATCH: This Classic Candy Bar Just Announced Three Amazing New Flavors
The good news? You don’t have to feel completely guilty about grabbing a bag of Halloween chocolates in the candy aisle instead. Although still packed with sugar, creamy chocolate is on the better end of the spectrum when it comes to oral health. According to Dr. Messina, chocolate is wiped away by saliva relatively quickly, so it doesn’t pose the same tooth decay dangers as its sticky candy counterparts. Like all sweets, though, you should savor your trick or treat chocolates in moderation (good luck telling that to the kids).