Sugar in Halloween candy fuels frightening breath
SUMMARY: The scariest thing about Halloween may be how bad breath bacteria feed on the sugars in all that candy.
Posted: October 26, 2016
Do you love Halloween? You're far from alone.
And it isn't just other humans. The bacteria that cause bad breath are big fans of the holiday, too.
Halitosis, gum disease and tooth decay
Anaerobic bacteria feed on sugars like the ones found in abundance around Halloween. Sugary treats spur a surge in activity as the bacteria create the sulfur compounds that cause wickedly bad breath.
Making the problem worse is that many Halloween candies contain chocolate, an acidic food that helps bad breath bacteria multiply.
Halloween halitosis isn't the only negative effect, however. Sugars also allow separate types of bacteria in your mouth to produce glycan strands. In turn, these glycans produce plaque. That adds gum disease and tooth decay to the list of frightening effects from sugary candies.
Sugar management strategies for Halloween
So what to do? Simply saying "no" to sugary candies on All Hallow's Eve isn't practical. Even if you, as an adult, somehow have enough self-control to do so, it's hardly fair to your children not to let them indulge at least a bit. About half of adults eat candy on Halloween, but the figure for kids is close to 100 percent, according to market analysts at NPD Group.
One way to do that is not to be part of the problem. When trick-or-treaters come to your door, hand out fake tattoos or vampire teeth instead of fun-size candy bars. Celebrity nutritionist JJ Virgin - who campaigns hard against excess sugar in the American diet - advocates this approach. The strategy also keeps tempting bags of candy out of your house.
Start by serving a healthy, balanced meal before hitting the trick-or-treat circuit. That's the strategy employed by one Florida mom who happens to be a nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sarah Krieger told USA Today it's crucial to craft a candy plan.
"It is sad to hear parents arguing with their kids about how much candy the kids eat when the parents are the ones taking them trick-or-treating," she said. "Whatever your plan is, it needs to be discussed before you go out."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend putting a limit on the number of candies you and the little ghouls in your life are allowed to eat. Many families have a tradition of trading pieces of each person's treat haul. The excess can go into a bag for charity or for the adults to take to their offices.
The real solution: Advanced oral care
Candy is an oral health danger year-round. While sugar intake does spike on Halloween, nearly 1 in 4 Americans eats candy every day, according to the NPD Group research referenced above.
Perhaps the best answer is to use the same advanced oral care products that keep your breath fresh and mouth healthy the rest of the year: TheraBreath Toothpaste and TheraBreath Oral Rinse. These products, used as directed, attack the bacteria that cause bad breath and ensure you'll have top-flight oral health.