Why Gummy Candies and Treats are Harmful

mouthful of gummy bears teeth pediatric dentistGummy candies are a treat that millions of children and their parents love. Unfortunately, they are also one of the worst candies for your teeth. Here’s a closer look at why gummy bears, gummy worms and even gummy vitamins can be a poor choice for your teeth.

Gummy Candies and Your Teeth

The bacteria in your mouth go to work immediately when you eat gummy candies. These bacteria set off a chemical reaction that turns the sugars into an acidic form. The acid then eats away at the enamel of your teeth. This chemical process on your teeth is called demineralization. Eventually, eating gummy candies can lead to cavities and an expensive trip to the dentist.

These chewy candies also stick to your teeth, which can cause another problem: anytime something is stuck to your teeth, it prevents the saliva from coming into contact with that area. Your saliva works to neutralize acids created from sugars and it also helps to remineralize your teeth. So, when you enjoy that gummy bear, you should know that it is creating an acidic pocket between your teeth. Your mouth’s natural defenses to the acidic process can’t do anything about it, which speeds up the breakdown of the enamel.

Additional Dental Problems from Gummy Candies

Wearing away the enamel on your teeth causes more than just cavities. A lack of enamel makes it easier to crack or chip a tooth. Enamel also acts as insulation for your teeth. If the enamel is reduced too much, it can make your teeth extremely sensitive to hot and cold foods.

Gummy candies are also on the list of foods that people with dental crowns should avoid entirely. The candies can stick to the crown and accidentally pull it loose, which would mean another trip to the dentist.

Gummy Vitamins

You might think that gummy vitamins are more healthy than gummy candies, but they have many of the same problems. Gummy vitamins contain between four and seven times as much sugar as a regular multivitamin.

Healthy Alternatives to Gummy Candy

  • Dark Chocolate: If you’re one of those people who absolutely needs candy (or wants it really, really badly), you can’t go wrong with dark chocolate. This is actually one of the best candies for your teeth. Several studies have shown that dark chocolate is better at fighting tooth decay than fluoride. Dark chocolate also has an antibacterial effect that fights plaque.
  • Candies with Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar replacement that makes a healthier alternative for your teeth. You can find lollipops and other candies made with this sugar substitute. The bacteria don’t recognize xylitol, so they don’t attack it and turn it into acid like they do with sugars.
  • Candy Bars with Nuts: Any candy that is sticky, such as gummy candies, is bad for your teeth. Candy bars with nuts, however, break up the acids created by the sugars. They’re also a good source of protein.

All the advice above doesn’t mean you have to avoid gummy candies completely. You can still enjoy them if you approach them the right way. Have a few of them for a snack and then immediately brush your teeth. Don’t eat the whole bag in one sitting. And finally, don’t snack on gummy candy throughout the day, because this keeps a constant supply of acid eating away your tooth enamel.

Summertime and Sugary Snacks

Summertime calls for time spent outside in the sun. Whether at the pool, at the ballpark or just in the street, your kids are going to want a frosty (probably sugary) drink to cool down. Lemonade, sweet tea, Kool-Aid and Gatorade, all popular summertime drinks with kids, each contain loads of sugar. These drinks, combined with candy and other sweet treats, can cause cavities. Luckily, the summer is a great time to see a pediatric dentist to make sure these sugary drinks are not negatively impacting your children’s dental health.

Why Sugary Treats Cause Cavities

There are many different factors that play into the creation of a cavity. Sugar, though, is one of the more prominent ones. When bacteria consume leftover carbohydrates, such as the ones found in sugary drinks and candy, they make an acid that combines with saliva to form plaque. Then, the plaque, if not brushed away properly, begins to eat away at your teeth. Cavities can then form because of weakened enamel. Sugary drinks, specifically, leave behind refined carbohydrates to be eaten by bacteria in your mouth.

How to Treat a Cavity

The best way to treat a cavity is to visit your local dentist. He or she can identify and treat the variety of possible cavities. From mild to severe, different treatments exist for each. If you need of a pediatric dentist in The Woodlands, TX or surrounding areas, check out Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry.

Frequent dental checkups are recommended because treatment for a cavity in its early stages is simpler and cheaper than for an advanced cavity. Many early-stage cavities can be treated by using calcium or fluoride to strengthen the tooth’s weakened enamel. For a more serious cavity, your dentist may have to administer a filling or root canal. Fillings require your dentist to physically remove the tooth’s decay and cover it with a special compound. Root canals, even more serious than fillings, are only necessary when the damage has moved to the pulp or nerve of the tooth.  

How to Prevent a Cavity

Making sure your kids brush their teeth twice per day for at least one minute is crucial to preventing cavities. Brushing teeth removes the plaque built up on your child’s teeth from their summertime sugary drinks. Flossing is also crucial because it removes any buildup between teeth. Combined, brushing teeth and flossing will help your child stay cavity-free.

One practical way to help your kids avoid cavities from summertime sugary drinks is to encourage them to drink them only during meals — instead of between meals. This limits the exposure of your child’s teeth to the acid from sugars. Supplementing your child’s diet with calcium-rich food and drink strengthens your child’s teeth.

The best way to prevent your child getting a cavity, though, is and will always be to have regular checkups with a pediatric dentist. The dentist will offer case-specific advice for your child on how to treat any current cavities and to prevent future ones. Offering an environment designed specifically for kids, Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry serves The Woodlands, TX and surrounding areas.