If you’ve been to your recommended twice-yearly dental appointments this year, you’re probably already tired of hearing your dentist tell you to stay away from excess sugar and sweets. But your doctors also want you to live a happy life, and sometimes, that means allowing yourself some indulgence in your sweet tooth. Here’s how to eat candy – the right way.
Remember: not all candy is created equal. Some candies, especially sticky candies like those with caramel or peanut butter, are worse for your teeth than others, regardless of sugar content. Try to limit the amount of sticky candy you consume: the stickier the food, the longer it lasts in your mouth. Your saliva works hard to wash away and neutralize bad bacteria cause by sugary foods, and if you’re eating some resilient taffy, that bacteria will stick around that much longer.
Pay Attention to Timing
Believe it or not, when you eat matters, especially when you’re planning to consume something sugary or acidic. During and shortly after meal time, your mouth produces extra saliva to help defuse bad bacteria and wash away food particles. Eating your candy close to meal time will allow that extra saliva to do its job.
If you can’t eat right after your meal, consider chewing sugarless gum or drinking water directly after eating candy. Even sucking on a sugar-free mint or lozenge can help create more saliva, which will counteract the effects of candy.
Along the same vein as keeping an eye on your timing, try to limit snacking in between meals, especially if that snack happens to be a sugary one. Frequent snacking as well as the length of time between snacks and meals causes bad bacteria to stay in the mouth longer, which can increase your risk of tooth decay. If you must snack, follow the tips above, like drinking more water or chewing sugarless gum.
Soda is Candy
Although sodas, sports drinks, and flavored waters may seem harmless, they unofficially belong to the “dessert” family. In terms of sugar content and longevity of their life on your teeth, sugary drinks are almost more dangerous to your dental health than chewing on a piece of candy. Even “healthy” drinks like lemonade and orange juice can do major damage to your teeth. Instead of sugary drinks, swap out for water, or choose sugar-free versions of your favorite treats.