We all know that something sticky and sweet is not a treat, well now we can add sour candy to that list. During our daily battle to improve our population’s dental health, we advise our patients to avoid various foods or treats that can have a negative impact on their dental health. In the midst of one such day, I stumbled upon an article that mentioned sour candies containing the up to a 92% greater potential to erode enamel and initiate tooth decay, than the original flavor counterpart (1). The main source of this increased risk is due to the greater amount of dietary acids such as citric acid, malic acid, and fumaric acid found in the candy. Citric acid seems to be the most commonly used acid not only in candy, but other foods and drinks that line our store shelves.
As we go through our day our busy day, the pH of our mouth fluctuates from a safe level (teeth recalcify) to a harmful acidic level (calcium is lost and tooth decay starts) every time we eat. If we are constantly snacking on candy or other foods our mouth is not given the chance to come back to the safe pH. If these snacks contain citric acid it makes maintaining your dental health a greater battle. If you need something in your mouth a sugarless gum is best because it keeps your acid fighting salivary glands stimulated. Also, snacks consisting of foods such as cheeses or walnuts can be less detrimental to your dental health.
Dental Health Tips:
1. Brush and Floss your teeth at least twice a day if not after every meal.
2. Do your best to avoid citric acid and other dietary acids in your diet.
3. Chew a sugarless gum, preferably containing Xylitol, usually a mint variety, since the fruit gums typically incorporate citric acid. Two things occur when you chew gum; saliva flow is stimulated by the gum (aiding in the buffering of acids), and the gum helps flush saliva between your teeth (aiding in bringing the pH between your teeth to a basic level that takes less time in other places in your mouth).
4. Stay hydrated with water so your salivary glands can produce plenty of saliva. Though it is good to dilute the acid by drinking water, keeping water in your mouth can increase the risk by diluting and washing away the calcium and proteins in your saliva that buffer the acids.
5.Visit your Dentist regularly so that your risk of dental decay can be monitored and any areas of dental decay can be addressed while the cavity is still small so we can save healthy tooth structure.