By Maxwell Rotbart
Halloween and subsequent dental visits go together like Kit and Kat.
Every October, millions of pounds and billions of dollars’ worth of candy are sold throughout the United States, as children embark on a candy-seeking quest that dates back to the 1930s.
But as most dentists well know, not all candy is created equal when it comes to the harm it can do to kids’ teeth; be the treats sticky and coated in sugar or hard enough to actually crack a child’s tooth.
Turns out, depending on where you practice, your pediatric patients are more likely to receive certain kinds of Halloween candy than others. And, accordingly, dentists in some states will see different post-Halloween maladies than those doctors serving other regions of the country.
According to 2017 information from the Georgia Dental Association, the worst Halloween candies for teeth are popcorn balls, which get particles lodged between the teeth; and sour candies, which are highly acidic.
Next worst are hard candies, followed by gummy candies. As far as oral health in concerned, sugar-free gum and chocolate (which doesn’t stick to teeth as much) are the best choices, with the less-sugary dark chocolate being the best.
That, according to sales data from bulk candy retailer CandyStore.com, is bad news for parents in Louisiana, where the most sugary candy of them all – and a hard candy at that – is Lemonhead, a lemon-flavored candy that combines a sweet coating, soft sour shell, and a hard candy core. Manufactured since 1962 by Ferrara Candy Company, more than 500 million Lemonheads are produced annually – many of them for distribution in Cajun country. (Although less popular, Ferrara’s Grapeheads, Cherryheads, and Appleheads are no more tooth-friendly.)
Other sugary treats that parents – regardless of where they live – should be most wary of include Life Savers, Dubble Bubble Gum, and the ubiquitous candy corn.
Popular candies with the least sugar for their weight in grams include Twix, a favorite of Seinfeld’s George Costanza (“We all know Twix is the only candy bar with the cookie crunch”), followed by Almond Joy, Butterfinger, and Reese’s Cups.
Nationally, for better or worse, Skittles, M&Ms, and Snickers are bestsellers, according to CandyStore.com.
New Yorkers and New Englanders may disagree on whether the Yankees or Red Sox are the all-time best baseball team in the American League, but both folks from the Big Apple and Beantown favor Sour Patch Kids come Halloween.
The expansive West tends to go for the heartier peanut butter cups: Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oregon prefer the confection named for Pennsylvania dairy farmer H.B. Reese.
Ironically, Pennsylvanians (and New Jersians), despite living in the backyard of the famed Hershey Company, prefer Skittles on Halloween. Those living on the Pacific coast – particularly Californians and Hawaiians, agree.
Salt water taffy is a favorite in both Washington state and Nebraska, while folks in the nation’s capital prefer M&Ms, which may vary in appearance on the outside, but like many politicians, are the exact same on the inside.
Dentists in Twix-loving Alaska and Colorado can take some comfort in the candy preferences of their citizens, but truth be told – as all dentists know by now – when November rolls around – be Twix or between (i.e., popcorn balls stuck in-between teeth), they’ll be seeing a sharp uptick in pediatric visits.
Author: Contributing writer Maxwell Rotbart specializes in covering business, education, and history-related topics. He is the author of The State of Israel: Prime Ministers, available from Amazon.com.
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- Kids Teaching Parents How to ‘Floss.’ Too Bad No Teeth Are Involved.
- The Dental Clinic of Tomorrow is Seeing Patients Today
- Tiny Iceland’s World Cup Hopes Rest in the Hands of a Dentist
- The Plight of One Dentist and his $1 Million Student Loan Debt
- Dental Office’s Warning Letter to Parents Ignites a National Debate
- No Longer #1, General Dentistry Remains Among America’s ‘Best Jobs’