The website for the National Confectioners Association lists a year’s worth of candy-related holidays. For example, January 3rd is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, April 12th is National Licorice Day, and November 7th is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. But watch out! Candy makers are claiming the entire month of June as National Candy Month.
Of course, dentists, orthodontists, and other dental professionals shudder at the thought of National Candy Month. While, it’s OK to have candy now and then, we wouldn’t want anyone to think of June as a month to gorge endlessly on candy, which as you know, can cause tooth decay. So here are five things to consume in order to survive National Candy Month with your teeth intact:
- Fresh fruit
Melons are great during summertime; they’re light, refreshing and very sweet. Select watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew or others. Or reach for other types of sweet fruit too—oranges and peaches, blueberries and strawberries—you name it. Even the fresh fruits that are higher in sugar such as grapes, bananas, mangos and cherries are preferable to candy.
2. Quality chocolate
The chocolate typically found on candy racks at convenience stores and vending machines contains very little actual cacao, the basic ingredient in chocolate. And this type of mass-market chocolate is high in sugar and saturated fats. It’s not good for your teeth or your body. On the other hand, quality chocolate, which is made from cacao beans, have polyphoneols and tannins which are ingredients that can stop the development of bacteria in the mouth and plaque. Choose dark chocolate without too much sugar to enjoy cacao’s oral and other health benefits.
- Sugar-free options
You can increasingly find sugar-free candy, especially in stores that stock natural and organic foods. These candies may use natural sweeteners like fruit juice or sugar-alternatives like Xylitol which has been shown to inhibit the growth of the oral bacteria that causes cavities. But be careful of the preservatives and other ingredients in sugar-free candies that are acidic, which upsets the pH balance in your mouth and can contribute to tooth decay.
- Snacks that aren’t sweet
Just because the National Confectioners Association says it’s national candy month, you don’t have to buy into their hype. Choose nuts, string cheese, pretzels, or chips. While many snack foods can be classified as junk food and aren’t necessarily good for your teeth, it’s still better for your teeth to avoid junk food with lots of added sugar.
- Your homemade treats
Still crave something sweet? Make them yourself. Look for recipes for granola or muffins. Generally speaking, homemade confections are healthier for you than store bought ones, and you can choose recipes with lower levels of sugar and otherwise have total control over what you’re eating.