10 Best & Worst Candies for Children's Teeth (PHOTOS)

Liz Alterman | Oct 14, 2014 Food & Party

kids trick-or-treatingKeeping kids from bingeing on candy during and after trick-or-treating is almost as hard as preventing squirrels from eating your jack-o'-lanterns

But not all Halloween candy is created equal when it comes to keeping children's teeth healthy. Some treats you may find inside your children's plastic pumpkins or pillowcases may be worse for their mouths than others.

Cosmetic dentist Dr. Timothy Chase explains that while you don't want to be the parent who ruins Halloween, knowing what kind of candy your kids are popping can be key when it comes to helping them stay healthy and cavity-free.

Going through children's loot, separating the least and worst offenders, and then remembering to eat in moderation, are all ways to keep little teeth in good shape, according to Chase, a practicing partner at SmilesNY. 

And when it comes to washing down all those sweets, the dentist says water is your best bet. According to a study published in the Journal of Dentistry, when children indulge in sugary beverages with high acidity, having them brush their teeth to remove the sugar and acid from the surface isn’t enough -- even if they do it within the hour. The damage has already been done, research suggests.

So which candies should you recommend your little ghosts and goblins gobble up this season? Check out our slideshow ranked from worst to best candy choices for your babies' little mouths, and then tell us: Is it possible to steer your child toward healthier choices on the biggest candy holiday of the year? 


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  • The Worst: Popcorn Balls


    Popcorn balls, as cute as they are, top the list of worst offenders, Chase says. Why is that? Kernels can get stuck between teeth, irritating the gums, and because kids don't always floss as they should, popcorn, especially the kind coated in caramel, can end up becoming the "perfect tooth disaster," the dentist explains. 

    More from The Stir: Halloween Without Candy Is Like Easter Without Jesus

  • Second Worst: Candy Bars With Nuts and Caramel


    Candies filled with caramel, coconut, or nuts are also high up on the list of the worst treats (as delicious as they may be!) when it comes to oral hygiene. Because those tasty fillings can end up wedged in your teeth for far longer than you realize, it's important to do a great job brushing and flossing. 

  • Very Bad: Taffy


    Taffy is right up there among the worst kinds of candy for teeth because it sticks to everything in your mouth, including the grooves of your teeth. The longer a food sticks to your teeth, the longer bacteria can feed on it, which can produce cavity-causing acid, Chase explains.

    "What you eat can be a huge factor in how healthy your teeth are, and around this time of year, when candy takes over your kids' diets, it’s time to really keep their teeth in mind," he notes.

  • Bad: Lollipops


    Hard candy such as lollipops or jawbreakers are also among the worst candies to be munching on, Chase warns. 

    "Although they do not stick to your mouth, they take a long time to dissolve. The longer a food stays in your mouth, the more acidic the environment becomes," he says. 

  • Bad: Sour Candies


    Sour candy is also bad for your teeth because it has a higher acidic content, which can break down tooth enamel, according to Chase.

  • Not Terrible, But Not Good: Powdery Candies


    "White powdery candies such as Pixie Stix dissolve quickly in the mouth and don’t require chewing, which is better for kids’ teeth, but they contain nothing but sugar and can lead to cavities by changing the mouth’s PH and giving bacteria straight sugar to feast on," Chase says. Good to know!

  • Pretty Good: Plain Chocolate


    "Chocolate with no sticky fillings will generally not stick to your teeth and therefore is a much better option if your kid (or you!) have the urge for a sweet snack," Chase says.

    That's music to our ears!

  • Good: Dark Chocolate


    Dark chocolate, which contains antioxidants, can be good for the heart and even lower blood pressure, studies suggest. Chase says this sweet treat is among the better choices as long as it's not loaded with caramel, nuts, or other things that may get stuck in or between little teeth. 

  • Even Better: Chips and Pretzels


    Chase notes that snack bags containing chips and pretzels are much better for the mouth as they are "straight carbohydrates" that contain less sugar and won't end up coating your teeth. 

  • The Best: Sugar-Free Gum


    Coming in at #1 and the best choice when it comes to candy that doesn't wreak havoc on your teeth is probably no surprise!

    "Sugar-free gum may be the best treat this Halloween season because it leaves no sticky residue, which causes plaque, and it is sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar that bacteria is unable to form plaque on," Chase explains. Hallelujah!