Sugar Alert – Tooth Decay Cometh


By Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.

The US candy manufacturing industry includes an estimated 1,600 companies with combined annual revenue exceeding $20 billion.  That is serious money that Americans traditionally give away in abundance to the most vulnerable population (innocent children) as detrimental tooth killers for their unhindered consumption.  Commonly, adults ignore the obvious bacterium that sets up in a child’s mouth from eating candy, primarily from processed sugar.  Bacteria from sugar will take away the protective enamel on teeth, which can never be replaced.

The tradition of passing out sweet treats at Halloween does not embrace giving sweet fruit.  If I were to trick or treat today and could come home with a bag of fresh fruit it would make my year.  Dream on, because I know how society has convinced the givers and receivers to indulge in an exchange of candy.  Even though everyone knows that candy works at ruining the teeth’s protective enamel.

So, since we are not likely to change tradition, we can at least choose between candies that are less harmful than others.  Remember the Ohio Players singing ‘Sweet Sticky Thing’ and it may prompt you to discard the worst candy, like taffy bars.  These types of candies stick to all the nooks and crannies in your teeth, allowing the bacterium that resides in the mouth to feast on the residue for an extended amount of time.  Even after brushing, the taffy lingers in micro-sized areas to erode enamel, as the longer bacteria can feed on it, the more it produces cavity-causing acid.

Likewise, those candies related to blow pops are similarly evil, along with powdery treats like Pixie Stix, which are unadulterated sugar.  Plus, unnaturally colored candies have chemicals that are bodily ill-intentioned.  Gummi Bears, Twizzlers, Tootsie Rolls, Skittles, sour candies and lollipops are examples of candies that stay in the mouth for a long time, which is bad for teeth because it has a higher acidic content that breaks down tooth enamel.

Powdery candy such as Pixie Stix dissolves quickly in the mouth and thereby does not require any chewing, except it contains nothing but processed sugar and can lead to cavities by changing the mouth’s PH level (a measure of the acidity) and giving bacteria nothing but straight sugar to eat.

If you are going to eat candy, consider something like a plain chocolate candy, such as a Hershey kiss, because the sugary residue is more likely to wash away with the mouth’s saliva.  In the same way, a Kit Kat bar is basically chocolate over a cookie base that stands a better chance to be cleaned from the teeth.

Ideally, I still push for changing tradition and to pass out bags of fruit.  There are advantages of eating slices of apple with the peal because it helps in getting out candy residue.

Mr. Jones is a marketing strategist with the Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), sharing his view on mismanagement practices of packaged foods & beverages.