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Mark Weiser, DDS: The Horrors of Sour Candy

This Halloween, beware that their pH levels approach that of battery acid

This Halloween, there is more to be scared of than ghoulish costumes. What can be terrifying to your child’s teeth is sour acid candy.

These candies come in many varieties and forms: hard and soft, chewy, powdered, sour gels and sprays, crystals, cotton candy and chewing gums. They contain strong food acids that have been known to erode the surface of the teeth.

Many parents consider these candies safer because they may contain less sugar, but what you don’t know is the acid content approaches the pH level of battery acid!

The growing popularity of these candies has raised concern among dental professionals because of the potential erosion of the tooth surface. Dental erosion can cause wear to the tooth surface in the form of craters on cusp tips to thinning of the flat surfaces.

When the pH of the mouth drops below 5.5, the tooth surface becomes more prone to tooth erosion and tooth decay. Other problems such as tooth sensitivity and staining also can develop. Irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth is common with sour candies, and some candies contain warning labels to this effect.

The following tips are recommended to make Halloween safe for children’s teeth:

» Do not purchase sour candies for trick-or-treaters.

» Search your child’s candy sack and remove sour acid candies. Replace these candies with a small piece of sugarless gum or candy, sticker or small prize.

» Xylitol gum is the best; it actually reduces and heals cavities.

» If you absolutely need to ear sour candies, do so at meal time vs. in-between meals.

» After eating sour candies, rinse your mouth with water immediately. This will help neutralize the oral cavity.

» Do not brush your teeth immediately after eating these sour candies; wait at least 30 minutes.

» See your dental professional if you think you have damage from dental erosion. There are treatments available that will help.

Mark Weiser, DDS, is a Santa Barbara dentist.


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