With their vibrant colors, fun shapes and variety of flavors, sour and chewy candies are a favorite among children and adults alike. Unfortunately, these candies also happen to be top culprits for tooth decay and other health issues. While a lack of nutrition plays a large role in their damaging properties, what makes these candies far worse than others is their high levels of acidity.
The High Acid Content in Sour Candies Erodes Enamel
Tooth enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth. This hard shell protects the inner layers of the teeth from the potentially damaging effects of everyday use, such as biting, chewing, and crunching. Though the hardest tissue in the body, tooth enamel is not indestructible. Several environmental factors can cause enamel loss, including corrosion caused by acidic foods and beverages.
Loss of tooth enamel occurs at a pH level of 4.0. For reference, water has a neutral pH level of 7.0. Battery acid has a pH level of 1.0. Most sour candies contain pH levels that fall below the erosion level, with some having pH levels as low as 1.6.
Sour Candies Interfere with the Mouth’s Natural Strengthening Process
Saliva helps strengthen the teeth and combat the damaging effects of sour and chewy candies. It dilutes the erosive properties of acidic foods and beverages and, more impressively, produces calcium to help fight oral bacteria. However, saliva can only do so much. If your child eats handful after handful of low-nutrition foods such as sour gummies, the mouth’s natural strengthening process becomes increasingly less effective.
Enamel Erosion Can Have Lasting Consequences
Once the mouth is no longer able to fend off the erosive properties of acidic candies, enamel erosion begins. Once enamel loss starts, your child may experience the following symptoms:
• Sensitivity to hot and cold foods and sweets
• Chips, cracks, and irregular tooth shape
• Severe pain and sensitivity
• Cupping, or indentations on the tooth’s surface
In the early stages of enamel loss, your pediatric dentist may recommend bonding, which involves placing a protective coat on your child’s teeth. However, if enamel loss is extensive, crowns or veneers may be necessary. Both restoration options protect the whole tooth from further damage.
Some Candies Are Better for Your Kids to Eat
When it comes to tooth health, there is no sweet that is “safe.” However, from holidays to family gatherings to school events, children often want to celebrate the festivities with a treat. In these cases, encourage them to go for the chocolate. Chocolate is one of the better candies to eat as it washes off the enamel easier than most other types of sweets. If you can get your child to eat dark chocolate, even better. In addition to being relatively safe for the teeth, dark chocolate has nutritional properties that offer many health benefits. Limiting the intake of damaging sweets is the best way to preserve your child’s oral health. However, for extra protection, ask us about sealants. Learn more today.