It may come as a surprise, but candy does not create cavities. Acid-producing bacteria in the mouth are the actual cause of cavities. Sugar in foods and drink does fuel the bacteria, which causes plaque and eats away at tooth enamel. However, there are worse foods for the teeth than candy.

Chips and crackers are more likely to cause cavities

Starchy foods contain sugars, but many parents substitute chips and crackers for sweet. They assume that those are better food choices for children’s teeth. In fact, a national survey commissioned by the AAPD discovered that 96% of U.S. adults with children under the age of 12 thought a cracker was better for teeth than a caramel.  On the contrary, these foods become soft or sticky when chewed and often stick in the teeth for a longer time than candy. The AAPD went on to say:

“The truth is that starches can lead to cavities just as sugars can, and caramels dissolve more quickly from the mouth than crackers. A cracker may be more figure-friendly, but it is not a teeth-friendly snack.”

Even sticky fruits can be worse for the teeth than candy. Raisins cling to the teeth because they are sticky, and this makes them more likely to cause cavities when not removed fully and promptly.

So parents, remember that food choices are key. Encourage your children to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Limit availability of potato chips, gummy candy, and soda. If you have a fussy eater, try a small amount of peanut butter as a topping to add flavor and protein. No matter what the family eats, do not let them skip brushing and flossing. Everyone should brush for at least two minutes, twice every day to help prevent plaque that causes cavities.