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Trick, or Treat?

What are the best and worst candies for your teeth?

While candy is generally recognized as bad for your teeth, some treats are worse offenders than others.

In the following list, I will attempt to provide information to help you make the best choice as you dig through your child’s Halloween candy bag. Immediately below are several candy categories and their dental properties. As a bonus I have included examples of each.

Hard Candy

Hard candies pack a double whammy. If you suck on them, they bathe your teeth in a harmful sugar/saliva solution that can cause cavities. But if you get down to business and chew them up, they can fracture your teeth or existing your dental work. Careful parents! We always see a few folks who got overzealous with these around Halloween. (Atomic Fireballs, Jolly Ranchers,  Everlasting Gobstoppers)

Sour Candy

Sour Candies are dangerous because the flavorings used to make them sour are very acidic. With the addition of sugar, these may be the worst of the worst! If it makes you pucker, don’t be a sucker! (Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, Sour Nerds, Lemonheads)

Sticky Candy

Sticky candy has the potential to dislodge existing fillings and crowns, and their stickiness means they are more difficult to remove from the teeth. That means they stay around longer to damage your teeth. (Bit O’ Honey, Sugar Daddies, Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Babies)


Most chocolates are high in sugar content and tend to be higher in calories due to fat content. However, it may be argued that chocolate is the best form of candy. Dark chocolate actually has some health benefits in the form of antioxidants. Look for at least 72% cacao, which probably will prevent this from ending up in the Trick or Treat bag since some think it is bitter. (Milk Chocolate: Hershey’s, Cadbury, Dove. Dark Chocolate: Ghirardelli, Lindt, Godiva)

Combo Candies

This category includes bars with creamy nougat,  gooey coconut and/or peanut mixtures wrapped in silky chocolate. Sounds good until your tooth gives you a ZING! These cover several of the above categories, all in one bar. (Snickers, Almond Joy, Mounds, Milky Way)

I will fess up to the fact that these are my favorites and were the first to disappear from my kid’s bags when they weren’t looking.


Listed are several popular candies along with their caloric and sugar content information. If the pH level, which measures the acidity, is known, it is listed as well. In terms of relativity, water has a pH of 7.0. and battery acid has a pH of 1.0. Loss of tooth enamel begins at a pH of 4.0.

4.2 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon.

For testing purposes, a “fun size” or miniature portion was used.

Candy                                  Sugar (Grams)    pH Level              Calories

  • Wonka Laffy Taffy            4.2 g                     2.5                        30
  • Starburst                             6 g                        2.4                        40
  • Smarties                             6 g                        3.0                        25
  • Hershey’s Chocolate       7 g                        n/a                        77
  • Mounds Bar                      7 g                        n/a                        80
  • AirHeads                             8.5 g                     2.0                        60
  • Snickers Bar                       8.5 g                     n/a                        80
  • Sour Patch Kids                 10 g                      3.0                        50
  • Skittles                                11.3 g                   2.5                        60
  • Wonka Nerds                    12 g                      2.0                        50

Halloween is a fun holiday and can be enjoyed with minimal dental concern if you are mindful. Just be sure to enjoy your candy but brush and floss afterward. We don’t want you looking like a Jack O’ Lantern!

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS