Worst Candies for Kids' Teeth

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Paula Hendrickson on November 7, 2021
  • Bubble gum machines
    Limit These Not-So-Sweet Treats
    The facts are these: Kids love candy, and they don’t love going to the dentist. How do parents let their children indulge in sweets while still maintaining a healthy smile? Some dentists give chocolate a thumbs-up, since it melts away faster than hard candies, limiting the exposure of sugar on kids’ teeth. Chewing sugar-free gum can also be a way to satisfy your sweet tooth—and help keep it clean at the same time. But a few treats can play extra harmful tricks on kids’ teeth. If your child wants to stay out of the dentist’s chair, it’s best to keep these candies out of their snacking routine.
  • Colorful candy group closeup
    Hard Candy
    From jawbreakers to candy canes, hard candies are bad for teeth. Because they dissolve slowly, they coat all sides of your teeth in sugar for a long time—and sugar is a main cause of tooth decay. Worse yet, if you like to chomp and chew hard candies, little fragments of crunched-up candy can stick on and between your teeth, making them difficult for your toothbrush or floss to remove. Worse yet, when bitten, some hard candies are hard enough to damage tooth enamel and braces.
  • Multi-ethnic teenaged couple eating candied apples
    Taffy apples and saltwater taffy are delicious, but caramel-like taffy sticks in all those little nooks and crannies where cavities like to form. It’s also tough on braces. The same stickiness that makes taffy so much fun to eat means it sticks to your teeth for a long time, too, and the longer your teeth are exposed to those sugars, the greater your risk of developing cavities. Other chewy candies like jellybeans, gummies, candy corn and licorice have the same effect.
  • Colorful sour chew candy
    Sour Candy
    Just because sugary sweets are bad for your teeth doesn’t mean sour candy is any safer. Sour-tasting foods have higher levels of acidity than sweets, and those acids can eat away at tooth enamel. Weakened enamel makes your teeth more likely to get cavities. Don’t forget, even sour candies usually include sugar, corn syrup or fructose (another word for, you guessed it, sugar), making them bad for your teeth in more than one way.
  • Happy friends having fun at amusement park
    Cotton Candy
    An airy favorite at circuses, fairs and amusement parks, cotton candy—spun sugar with added color and flavor—is among the stickiest candies around. One touch will tell you that. Cotton candy melts the second it hits your tongue, instantly bathing your teeth in sugar. While cotton candy won’t get stuck between teeth like chewy candies, the sugary coating it leaves behind is just as bad.
  • Dark Chocolate English Toffee with pecan unts
    Almond toffee is basically hard candy mixed with nuts. Not only does toffee—and its cousin peanut brittle—pose the same risks as ordinary hard candy, the addition of nuts causes extra problems. When bits of candy-coated nuts lodge in crevices or between teeth, they trap the sugar. On rare occasions, small pieces of nutshells can find their way into the candy mixture. Accidentally biting even a tiny piece of shell could crack or damage a tooth.
  • Friends sitting on sofa chewing bubble gum
    Chewing sugar-free gum can actually clean and protect teeth by neutralizing acids in your mouth, but the emphasis there is “sugar-free.” Because regular bubblegum stays chewy longer than most other types of gum, kids tend to chew it for extended periods, keeping their teeth swimming in sugar. Children with braces should avoid all types of chewing gum--even sugar-free--to keep their teeth (and their orthodontists) happy.
Worst Candies for Kids' Teeth
  1. Watch out for Ghosts, Goblins and…Mouth Monsters this Halloween. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. http://mouthmonsters.mychildrensteeth.org/watch-out-for-ghosts-goblins-and-mouth-monsters-this-hallo...
  2. Tips for a MouthHealthy Halloween. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/h/halloween-tips
  3. Candies That Cause the Most Tooth Enamel Damage. SymptomFind.com. http://www.symptomfind.com/health/candies-tooth-enamel-damage/ 
  4. The Best (and Worst) Candy For Your Teeth. WebDental. http://www.webdental.com/profiles/blogs/the-best-and-worst-candy-for-your-teeth
  5. Sour Skittles Nutrition Label. Wrigley. http://www.wrigley.com/global/brands/skittles.aspx?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_ter m=skittles%2bsour&utm_content=Sour&utm_campaign=SKT_Int_Desktop_Brand%2bFlavors/#pa nel-3
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Last Review Date: 2021 Nov 7
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.