A. Yes, most types of candy will harm your teeth. The decay rate is dependent on many key factors: the plaque buildup of cavity forming bacteria; low pH; lack of minerals(Calcium,fluoride ions); the consumption of sticky retentive food; the morphology of the teeth (familial genetics); lack of saliva flow (xerostomia); lack of brushing and flossing.
Consumption of any sugar (candy) or starch will generally produce an acid environment within 30 minutes in the mouth. As enzymes are released in the salivary glands to help break down the sugars and as the bacteria ingesting the sugars produces acids, the pH in the oral environment will drop, which starts to soften the surface of the tooth structure. Starch is a complex sugar after all! Sugar is sugar whether it’s a starch or fructose. Sticky candies that sit in your mouth in large quantities carry the most risk for your teeth.
Some types of candy can actually provide small benefits, or at least do less harm. In fact, research has shown that products containing chocolate can actually help remineralize the teeth, but the substance exists in too small of quantity within candies to qualify for an ADA certification. Chocolate also has the ability to inhibit the bacteria from sticking to tooth surfaces. Unfortunately, you would have to ingest a large quantity of chocolate to gain these benefits. Any volunteers?
One particular candy actually comes dentist-recommended: Xylitol gum. Xylitol gum is a great candy for maintaining our oral environment for several reasons. Besides the fact that Xylitol only has 2/3 of the calories of cane sugar, Xylitol gum will inhibit the growth of fermenting bacteria by starving them, which will offset the acidic environment and plaque accumulation that most sugars would produce. So Xylitol is helpful at neutralizing the pH and maintaining a great oral environment. Xylitol also stimulates saliva flow by stimulating the taste buds and enhancing the diluting factor. Research has found that the salivary glands can produce remineralization crystals; Xylitol is one of those components that promote the re-mineralization activity in the mouth. Xylitol promotes calcium ions to be absorbed in the gut and ultimately released in the salivary flow. In addition, gum with or without sugar will produce a cascade of positive effects by stimulating salivary flow with the muscles action of chewing, which also enhances the diluting factor. The remineralization process is at full speed with the release of nano size mineral crystals produced by our salivary glands, thanks to Xylitol.
When you finish your meal, chew a piece of gum to help reduce cavity risk, especially when you’re on the go and a toothbrush isn’t available. If you can, brush and floss within 30 minutes of ingesting any food. If you can’t, have Xylitol gum instead and support the health of your mouth by increasing the pH while reducing plague and the bad bacteria count.
Note: Pet owners, please be cautious! Just like chocolate is toxic to our animals, Xylitol has a toxic effect on pets (it can cause liver failure due to their different metabolism) and could be lethal. Please keep all chocolate and Xylitol products away from your pets as you enjoy them.
Talk to one of our caring patient coordinators today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Frank Sioda 18676 Williamette Dr. Suite 202 West Linn, OR 97068-1718