Dentists reveal 6 of the worst Halloween candies for your teeth – and 2 you should eat instead

Halloween candy
Even dentists have a sweet tooth. Shutterstock/Leena Robinson
  • Sticky candies like gummies can get stuck in hard-to-clean areas between teeth.
  • The acidity of sour candies – and even some sugar-free treats – is tough on tooth enamel.
  • Dentists say chocolate and caramel apples are better options for Halloween.

Gummy candies take a long time to chew and can get lodged in your teeth.
Multicolored gummy bears.
Gummy bears. Shutterstock
Dr. Hajera Ali, a general dentist at Smile! Dental Boutique in New Jersey, has a sweet tooth just like the rest of us.

“Gummy candy is probably one of the worst (but unfortunately my personal favorite),” Ali told Insider. “It sticks to your teeth and has to be chewed much more than other candy. The sugar is in contact with your teeth for a longer period of time, and sometimes it sticks in hard-to-clean areas like between your teeth.”

Like gummies, caramels are sticky and take a long time to dissolve.
Caramel candies wrapped in plastic.
Caramel candies. Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
“The worst Halloween candies are generally those that ‘stick with you’ for a long time and take a while to dissolve, particularly caramels and gummy-like candies,” said Dr. Joyce Kahng, cosmetic dentist and assistant professor at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.
Tacky candies like Starburst can pull on crowns and fillings.
Starburst candy
Starburst. Jennifer Wallace/Shutterstock
“These act like little sugar bombs that hang out in the hard to reach crevices of your teeth until they finally dissolve,” Kahng said. “Starburst derivatives, such as the Trader Joe’s version or Now and Laters, can also be tough on crowns and fillings by sticking to them and pulling at them.”
Lollipops may not be sticky, but they’re consumed slowly, which means prolonged acidity that can wear on teeth.
Pink, white, and yellow striped lollipops in plastic wrappers.
Lollipops. Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images
While lollipops may not get stuck in between teeth, they do take a while to finish.

“Lollipops are also sneaky — they are not as sticky, but the activity of eating them takes a long time,” Kahng said. “The longer someone spends eating candy, the longer the mouth is in an acidic state, so it is best to keep these activities as short as possible.”

Sour powder candies like Pixy Stix or Wonka Fun Dip are incredibly acidic.
Close up of Pixy Stix candy.
Pixy Stix. Jennifer Smith/Contributor/Getty Images
“It’s all about balance. Literally. Keeping the pH in your mouth close to neutral (seven) is the name of the game,” Dr. Aaleeyah Alim, a Chicago-based dentist and founder of the hashtag #ToothTuesday, told Insider. “For reference: water, which is neutral, has a pH of seven and battery acid has a pH of one. Your teeth start to decalcify, or break down, at a pH of four. Some of the worst candy for your teeth is Wonka Fun Dip, Pixy Stix powder, and Now and Laters. The pH of those are all below two!”
Even sugar-free candies can still be acidic enough to wear down enamel.
Sugar free taffy displayed in a candy shop.
Sugar-free taffy. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Kahng says that candies and gum made with the sugar alternative xylitol often still contain citric acid, which can damage tooth enamel.

“Although these have reduced to no sugar, it can be argued that excessive gum chewing can result in faster wear of the enamel,” Kahng said. “I’ve also found that most xylitol candies are formulated with citric acid, which technically makes the candy sugar-free but acidic. People assume they are home free when choosing sugar-free candies, but an acidic pH can be just as bad when it comes to damaging the enamel.”

Chocolate is a better Halloween candy option, according to Ali.
Squares of a Hershey's chocolate bar
Squares of Hershey’s chocolate. Mike Blake/File Photo/Reuters
“It can be eaten quickly, dissolves fast, and washes away from your teeth easily after brushing,” Ali said.
Kahng recommends enjoying the stickiness of caramel in the form of a caramel apple.
Caramel apple
Caramel apples. sgreer721/ iStock
“My favorite treat on Halloween is a little sweet and a little naughty: caramel-covered apples,” she said. “Although the caramel is sticky, the apples are crisp and help to clean the surfaces of the teeth. I think Halloween is to be enjoyed and I don’t mind indulging every once in a while.”
Alim, Kahng, and Ali all agree that it’s OK to indulge every once in a while.
Halloween Candy Sugar
It’s okay to enjoy Halloween candy. Crystal Cox/Business Insider
To lessen the negative effects of sugary sweets on your teeth, Alim recommends eating candy in one sitting instead of nibbling on it throughout the day and swishing your mouth with water afterwards.

“I am guilty of loving candy,” Alim said. “As a dentist, that’s something I actually share with my patients often. Because I let them know you can enjoy candy responsibly and still have healthy teeth.”