The Worst Candy for Your Teeth
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The 14 Worst Halloween Candies for Your Teeth

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The Worst Candy for Your Teeth
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Tricky Treats

If you ask your dentist, the scariest thing about Halloween is the damage all that candy can do to your teeth. Experts say trick-or-treat sweets aren't quite so sweet when it comes to oral health. The worst ones are sticky (think caramel and gummy candy) and acidic (think sour), but that doesn't mean chocolate lovers can breathe a sigh of relief. Even chocolate Halloween candy is loaded with sugar. The most important thing is to brush your teeth after eating, and you may want to steer clear of these 14 Halloween treats.

Related: 25 Specialty Candymakers Worth Seeking Out

Candy Corn
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Candy Corn

You either love it or you hate it, and it's safe to assume dentists are in the latter camp. There are 28 grams of sugar in just 19 little pieces of Brach's Classic Candy Corn, and bits of it get lodged easily between teeth. "This candy's main ingredients are corn syrup and sugar, both of which will result in tooth decay," said Dr. Adam Harwood, an endodontist in New York City. "In addition, the bacteria that feed on the sugar ... produce acid-eroding materials that damage the teeth."

Related: The Fun, Little-Known History Behind Candy Corn and Other Favorite Sweets

Sour Patch Kids
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Sour Patch Kids

You may love Sour Patch Kids, Lemonheads, and other super-sour candy that makes you pucker up, but your dentist doesn't. "Sour candies tend to be more acidic, which can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth known as enamel," said Dr. Gary Glassman, an endodontist in Toronto. "This makes your teeth more vulnerable to cavities."

Lollipops
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Lollipops

Lollipops seem innocent enough, but the fact that we savor them so long makes them particularly bad for the teeth, experts say. "Cavity-causing bacteria [have] a longer time to ruminate, increasing your risk of tooth decay," Glassman said. In other words, it takes way too many licks to get to the center of that Tootsie Pop. Go sugar-free in this category if you can.

Related: 25 Candy Stores That Will Make You Feel Like a Kid Again

Jolly Ranchers
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Jolly Ranchers

Steer clear of these and other hard candies for the same reason as lollipops: Sucking on them for so long gives all that sugar longer to eat away at your teeth. Jolly Ranchers are particularly notable because you find them in almost every trick-or-treat bag, and just three small pieces have 11 grams of sugar. "We tend to suck all of the sugar off of these type of candies, allowing the sugar to damage our teeth while we enjoy the taste," Harwood said.

Pixy Stix and Fun Dip
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Pixy Stix and Fun Dip

Dentists are divided on these powdery classics. On one hand, they dissolve and wash away quickly, which means there's less time for them to damage your teeth. On the other hand, they have pH levels that are so low — 1.9 and 1.8, respectively — that they're almost as acidic as battery acid, according to a chart compiled by the Minnesota Dental Association. (Tooth decay begins at a pH of about 4.) So if you have to have your powdered candy, make sure you don't try to savor it.

Jawbreakers
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Jawbreakers

The reason dentists hate these candies is pretty clear from their name. "They can chip or crack teeth," said Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, a Dallas dentist. And while it should go without saying, kids with braces should definitely steer clear of Jawbreakers. "If you try to bite into those, you're probably going to knock your brackets off," said Dr. Jamie Reynolds, a Detroit orthodontist.

Now and Later
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Now and Later

Townsend called hard-but-chewy candies such as Now and Laters "a double punch to teeth." Why? "They take time to dissolve and leave teeth coated in a sugary film, and are hard enough to chip teeth." Any sort of hard taffy candy poses a similar risk, experts say.

Airheads
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Airheads

You aren't safe just because an Airhead is softer than a Now and Later. "Its chewy, taffy-like texture makes it hard to remove from teeth even when brushing," Harwood said. "The leftovers leave cavity-causing bacteria lingering in the mouth." This applies to licorice, jelly beans, and gummy bears, as well.

Milky Way and Twix
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Milky Way and Twix

"Milk chocolate causes cavities and tooth decay — and the caramel is sticky and hard to get off of your teeth from saliva or a drink of water, causing more bacteria and acids to grow," Harwood said. For people who've got to have chocolate, Glassman recommended chocolate bars without any fillings. Dark chocolate is best, because it has a lower sugar content and doesn't linger on the teeth as long.

Dried Fruit
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Dried Fruit

Although dried fruit may seem like a healthier treat to enjoy on Halloween, that's not the case for your teeth. It's just as bad for your teeth as candy "because of the stickiness and concentration of sugar," said Dr. Mark Burhenne of Ask the Dentist. "Stick to real fruit, which is far less concentrated in sugar and is packed with fiber and water that keep you full."

Tootsie Rolls
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Tootsie Rolls

There's no escaping Tootsie Rolls at Halloween, but dentists wish there were. "These sticky candies will linger because they stick around, increasing the chance for a cavity," Burhenne said. There's also no shortage of sugar here: 19 grams in just five of the small "midgee" pieces likely to show up in trick-or-treat bags.

Popcorn Balls
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Popcorn Balls

Often given out as a trick-or-treat candy alternative, popcorn and popcorn balls pose a big risk for kids with braces, orthodontist Dr. Jamie Reynolds said. "Part of the band extends below the gum, and the popcorn can get wedged between the gum and band, creating a gum infection." Popcorn balls are a double whammy because they're usually held together with sticky caramel or corn syrup.

Swedish Fish
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Swedish Fish

This popular candy is responsible for another one-two punch, Harwood said. "The sugar deteriorates enamel, and the gummy texture sticks to our teeth and gums, doubling up on the damage done," he said. "These substances can literally pull the fillings and crowns out of our teeth. They are very similar to materials the dentist may use to remove old crowns when replacing them."

Dubble Bubble
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Dubble Bubble

Chewing gum can stimulate the production of saliva, which helps wash away cavity-causing food particles. Unfortunately, sugar-sweetened bubble gum, such as trick-or-treat favorite Dubble Bubble, still does more harm than good. Glassman recommended sugar-free gum containing xylitol instead. "Xylitol may actually protect the teeth by reducing the acids produced by bacteria and increase saliva that rinses away excess sugars and acids," he said.