A Chattanooga dentist ranks Halloween candies from worst to best

When it comes to your child's teeth, some Halloween candies are scarier than others. / Getty Images

Halloween always conjures up ideas of kids in cute costumes going door to door in search of that next sweet treat.

Parents may wonder how to let their children enjoy the bounty while staying healthy, especially when it comes to oral health.

Pediatric dentist office Splash Smiles in Chattanooga provided some quick tips and tricks for your kid's trick-or-treat.


When it comes to your child's teeth, some Halloween candies are scarier than others. Here, Splash Smiles helps rank common candies in regards to their impact on your teeth.

Always avoid: anything sticky

Example: Starbursts, Airheads, gummies

"The worst candies are anything sticky," says Lori Zidan, dental assistant and operations manager at Splash Smiles. "Starbursts, gummies -- anything that's like a sticky type that kind of stays in your teeth. We'd rather them eat chocolate than the sticky candy."

In addition to sticking to teeth, these candies can also pull out fillings or sealant.

Avoid most of the time: hard candies

Example: Jolly Ranchers, lollipops

These types of treats are better than sticky candies, as long as children aren't biting them with their teeth, Zidan says.

Hard candies are better if they are sucked on, she says, as opposed to being bitten as one runs the risk of cracking or chipping a tooth that way.

Enjoy in moderation: chocolate

Example: candy bars

Chocolates are a better alternative to sticky candies as they are easier to remove from the teeth.

Enjoy: fruit, low-sugar options, xylitol-based sweets

Examples: apples, sugar-free candy

Even at Splash Smiles, kids are offered lollipops after a visit, but they are made with xylitol, a plant-based sweetener, which is sweet like sugar but doesn't cause tooth decay.

Be Proactive

Regardless of how you and your kids decide to enjoy Halloween, there are ways to help protect teeth after enjoying sweets so that your kid's next trip to the dentist isn't so scary.

1. Brush teeth well with fluoride toothpaste before bed and don't consume anything but water after. Parents should brush kids' teeth for them until around the age of 5 or 6, when they can tie their own shoes.

2. Floss, especially between back molars.

3. Have regular dental appointments.

4. Enjoy sweets, like candy and juice, in moderation.

And if parents are concerned that their kid may have a cavity or other tooth issue, it's best to get them seen as soon as possible, Zidan says.

Is it ever OK to indulge?

If your kid is partial to those sticky sweet treats, compromise with a caramel-covered apple. In a 2021 Insider article which ranked Halloween candy, dentist Dr. Joyce Kahng 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."