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As a kid, I would always get the same answer as to why I wasn’t allowed to eat candy: “It will rot your teeth!” Now, I’m not much of a candy guy to begin with. Even as a kid I ate more fruits than candy but still, my parents would not relent, no matter how much fruit I ate.  Even during the holidays, I wouldn’t get so much as a candy cane. All because my stupid teeth might dissolve while still attached to my gums.

All grown up now and with my candy cane craving growing with the approaching holiday, I started to wonder: Is there any candy that might be good for your teeth?

To answer that question we have to first get to the root of the problem. Candy is bad for your teeth because of sugar. Why is sugar bad? Well, the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and create acid. It’s that acid that creates cavities and gum disease. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, sugar free candy is a fine replacement for any candy that might otherwise be high in sugar.

Sugar free gums like Orbit, Extra and Eclipse have been given an ADA seal of acceptance and have been shown to reduce plaque acid and strengthen teeth.

There are now sugar free, multi-vitamin, gummy bears that give kids their candy fix along with a healthy dose of vitamins to keep the rest of their body strong. I wish they had those when I was a kid. I had to suffer through the old school, children’s chewables… actually those weren’t so bad.

Chocolate is good for teeth. It does have sugar but that sugar is mixed in with fat that prevents the sugar from long exposure to teeth. Also, cocoa contains a lot of polyphenols, which can kill or suppress bacteria, preventing them from growing or producing tooth-attacking acid. Of course, the higher the cocoa level, the lower the sugar and subsequently, better for your teeth. I enjoy a nice 75% Dark Chocolate with a nice glass of Cab.

How about lollipops? Microbiologists from the Department of Oral Biology at the UCLA School of Dentistry have found that extract from the licorice root helps to disable bacteria that cause cavities. This extract can now be found in Dr. John’s® Herbal Lollipop, which advertises, “(take one) in the morning and one lollipop in the evening, for 10 days, disables tooth decay bacteria for 3 to 6 months.”

So, next time I think about having a sweet treat, I’ll remember my mother screaming about my teeth…. as I unwrap another Candy Cane.

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