From gummy bears and rings to gummy sharks and worms, there is a broad range of gelatin-based chewable sweets. While undeniably delicious, gummy candies are not great for your teeth. A traditional gummy bear is made from a mixture of sugar, syrup, glucose, starch, citric acid, gelatin, food coloring, and flavoring. Like many sweet and sticky candies, gummies can wear down tooth enamel and contribute to cavities.
The 411 on Gummy Candies
Everyone knows that candy is not good for our teeth, and that we shouldn’t eat too much candy or risk ruining our dental health. However, some types of candy are worse than others. Sticky candies, such as caramels, taffies, and gummies, are particularly bad as they stick to the teeth and are difficult to remove. In addition to being sticky, gummies are very high in sugar. In fact, a single gummy bear contains about 1.3 grams of sugar.
The Effect of Gummies on Teeth
As soon as you pop a gummy candy into your mouth, a chemical reaction starts to occur. The mouth contains billions of bacteria – some good and some bad. When these bacteria come into contact with the sugars from the gummy candy, it creates an acidic substance that eats away at tooth enamel. This process, known as demineralization, is essentially the loss of minerals (mainly calcium and phosphate). When demineralization occurs, the strength and hardness of teeth is compromised.
Chewy candies like gummies also stick to the teeth. As food sticks to the tooth’s surface, it creates a barrier between the tooth and saliva. Constant saliva flow is important as it helps to neutralize the acids in the mouth created from sugars, thus minimizing the demineralization of teeth. When your teeth do not have access to this natural defense, the acids in the candy can eat away at the enamel, speeding up the breakdown of enamel and increasing your risk of tooth decay.
The damage caused by gummy candies extends further than demineralization and cavities alone. Some people may experience the long-term effects of frequent candy consumption. As the enamel on the teeth continues to wear away, the strength of the teeth also diminishes. When this happens, the teeth become much more susceptible to cracks and chips. Tooth enamel also acts as a form of insulation. When enamel wears down, it’s common to experience extreme sensitivity to hot and cold.
Gummies can also be troublesome for people who already have dental problems, especially those with dental restorations or appliances. The stickiness of gummy candy is often enough to dislodge an appliance or pull a restoration like a crown from a tooth. When restorations or appliances in the mouth become loose or fall out, patients are forced back to the dentist. They then have the problem remedied, costing even more money and discomfort.
Opt for Healthy Alternatives
Gummy candy can cause excessive harm to your teeth, especially if you consume it regularly. High-sugar candies lower the pH level in the mouth, creating an acidic environment that gradually damages teeth. Sour gummy candy is the worst culprit, with some dentists comparing its effects to battery acid.
Fortunately, there are some healthier candy options for those who have a sweet tooth. While candy consumption should be minimal and only on occasion, the following candy options are generally healthier than gummies:
- Dark Chocolate – Milk chocolate contains larger amounts of sugar than dark chocolate which has actually been shown to ward off tooth decay. Dark chocolate contains antibacterial properties that help fight plaque.
- Xylitol Candies – Today, it’s easy to find candies that contain xylitol instead of traditional sugar. This popular sugar replacement is a healthier alternative as bacteria in the mouth do not recognize xylitol, and therefore do not attack it.
- Candy Bars with Nuts – While most candy bars contain high amounts of sugar, the occasional candy bar with nuts is a nice treat. The nuts actually help to break up the acids created by sugars.
Contact Our Clermont Dentist
If you’re craving a sweet treat, rethink your decision to eat gummies and opt for a healthier alternative. To learn more about the harmful effects of candy on your teeth or to book an appointment with our dentist in Clermont, contact our Clermont family dentistry at Hancock Village Dental.