If you’re wondering what the healthiest Halloween candy is, the answer is, essentially, none. While October 31st may be a time for “tricks”, it’s the treats like chocolate and other sugar-filled products that Dr. Ali Ghahary says people should be concerned about. While it’s technically okay to have the odd candy here and there, they aren’t things that we should let our children indulge in too much of, and the same even goes for adults. Candy can not only have a negative impact on our oral health, increasing the risk of things like cavities, but it can also wreck just as much havoc on one’s physical health, leading to weight gain, and it can also be a trigger for things like headaches and migraines. In addition, consumption of sugar can also be quite problematic for individuals with diabetes. Below, Dr. Ghahary provides more insight into these conditions and the other ways in which candy can harm your health.
Depending on the type of candy you eat, the effects it can have on your body can differ. For example, when it comes to the teeth, no candy is good given the sugary content, but certain candies and types of chocolate can lead to a higher risk of dental problems than others. Sour candy, for example, can be quite acidic. Any type of candy or food that is acidic can cause damage to the enamel on your teeth — the hard, outer later that protects your teeth against decay. The less enamel you have, the more at risk you are of developing cavities. In addition, that lack of tooth enamel can also cause you to have sensitive teeth, which may cause pain when you drink or eat foods and beverages that are hot and cold, in addition to causing sensitivity when you eat sweets, even if cavities aren’t necessarily present. If you are someone who prefers sour candy or eats a lot of acidic food in general, then it’s recommended that you use a toothpaste and mouthwash specifically designed to help rebuild and protect the enamel on your teeth. For those who prefer soft or sticky candies, these tend to be the worst, as the softer and stickier the candy is, the more likely it is to remain on your teeth for a longer period of time, and that gives cavity-causing bacteria more time to work, meaning you’ll ultimately require fillings. Hard candy isn’t any better, either. While it sticks to your teeth for a lot less longer than softer, stickier candy does, it can be just as problematic, as hard candy has not only been known to break teeth, but is also a choking hazard — especially for youngsters.
If candy has been consumed, the number one thing you can do to prevent tooth decay is to floss and brush your teeth immediately afterwards. In other for tooth brushing to be effective, you have to make sure you know the proper brushing technique: By placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and moving it back and forth across the teeth in short strokes. Aside from the teeth, it’s also recommended that you gently brush the gums. If your gums are sore or bleed upon brushing, this could be a sign of gum disease, including gingivitis, and should be addressed by speaking with your dentist as well as going for regular dental hygiene appointments. The better care you take of your teeth, the more the risk of things like cavities and gum disease will decrease.
As mentioned, candy can also increase the risk of gaining weight, as well as be harmful to those with diabetes. When it comes to gaining weight, this is because candy is filled with calories and sugar — and when sugar enters the body, it turns into fat, and that fat then get secreted into the blood. As for diabetes, while sugar doesn’t directly cause it, the consumption of it can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels…and if your blood sugar levels are too high, this can lead to a potential health emergency that needs to be dealt with right away.
If candy is going to be consumed, you need to time it right — such as with a meal or shortly after a meal has been eaten. When we eat things like breakfast, lunch and dinner, our saliva production increases, and it is our saliva that helps to cancel out acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. In addition, saliva also helps to wash away any leftover food particles. Because children can come back with enough candy to last them the rest of the year from trick-or-treating, you can also encourage them to pick out a few they want to keep and donate the rest. Lastly, drinking more water can also be beneficial.
Originally published at alighahary.ca on October 15, 2018.