It’s that time of the year again when people display affection for the ones they love by gifting beautiful flowers, thoughtful cards and, of course, sugary treats. However, not all sugar-filled candies are created equal when it comes to your dental health. At McLean DDS, we understand that a sugar-free Valentine’s Day isn’t realistic. In fact, it’s fine to indulge from time to time in moderation. Just remember that some treats are better for your dental health than others.

How Sugar Affects Teeth

Since most candies contain sugar, they can cause serious damage to your teeth. Heart-shaped candies, cherry lollipops and chewy caramels are delicious ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, these holiday favorites come with a price, as too many sugary candies can wreak havoc on your dental health.

The reason stems from a sticky film of naturally occurring bacteria called plaque that is constantly forming on the teeth and gums. When bacteria combine with sugar in the mouth, it is converted into a dangerous acid that attacks the teeth. Repeated attacks can cause tooth enamel to weaken, eventually causing decay and cavities. Candies that stick to your teeth, such as taffy and caramel, are some of the worst offenders. These sticky treats adhere to your teeth and coat the enamel in sugar, which contributes to decay. Similarly, hard candies — such as mints and lollipops — take a long time to dissolve in the mouth and can damage teeth or restorations if you bite too hard, so remember to eat with caution.

Opt for Dark Chocolate

If you wish to indulge this Valentine’s Day, chocolate is a better option for satisfying your sweet tooth. It melts quickly in the mouth and doesn’t cling to tooth enamel like other candies. Out of all of the chocolates, dark chocolate is the best for your teeth. This is because dark chocolate is the closest to the cocoa bean form and contains less sugar than other varieties. Dark chocolate is also packed full of powerful antioxidants that can actually fight decay by neutralizing cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.

Munch on a piece of dark chocolate or arrange fresh fruit on a platter and dip them into dark chocolate for a savory Valentine’s Day dessert. Keep in mind that portion control is still important with dark chocolate, as it still contains sugar and fat that can be bad for your health in large quantities.

Remember to Love Your teeth

Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of Valentine’s Day treats this year, the most important thing is that you remember to show your teeth some love by practicing good oral hygiene.

  • Brush and floss regularly, especially after enjoying a sugary snack, to prevent decay.
  • Drink plenty of water and incorporate plenty of healthy fruits, vegetables and lean proteins into your diet to boost your overall health.
  • Visit McLean DDS regularly for cleanings and exams as one of the best ways to prevent dental problems early.

Happy Valentine’s Day from McLean DDS

This Valentine’s Day, remember to choose wisely when selecting candy and treats to eat. Opt for dark chocolate in place of other candies and enjoy sweets in moderation to avoid decay. Combined with good oral hygiene and routine visits to our office, you can create a sweet Valentine’s Day for your loved ones — and your teeth!

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