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Hygienist warns against sour candy


Last updated 10/27/2006 at Noon

With Halloween coming, ghosts and goblins aren’t the only scary aspects of going trick-or-treating. The sour candies that kids love and that fill store shelves this time of year combine sweet and sour ingredients that together have a ghastly effect on children’s teeth.

“I call this ‘acid blast in a sugar bath,’” dental hygienist Erika Feltham said recently. “The candy I am referring to has a very sour citrus acid coating and the center of the candy is loaded with sugar.”

“The effects I have observed in my work are dramatic,” she continued. “The kids are getting a double whammy. It is well known professionally that demineralization of enamel occurs at the pH level of 5.5 and below. Not only is the enamel destroyed, but it is then instantly exposed to sugar. That’s a double whammy!”

Feltham, who has been a dental hygienist for over 22 years, has a keen interest in tracking the effects this candy has on teeth.

“We are facing a new problem with a particularly destructive type of candy which is widely available under many brand names,” she explained. “Check out what many kids like to wash this ‘sour candy’ down with — you guessed it: sodas. Those contain more phosphoric acid with more acid and sugar. Now it is a triple whammy!”

“I have noted a dramatic increase in the number of cavities and loss of luster [shine] of the teeth, erosion and tooth sensitivity for children and young adults who consume this ‘sour acid sugar candy’ regularly,” she added. “It does not take a lot of this kind of candy to be destructive.”

To reduce this destructive effect, Feltham recommends children brush their teeth or rinse out their mouths no more than 20 minutes after eating this candy. However, she remains adamant that parents should carefully monitor the candy their children are consuming.

“It is my opinion and belief that this newer and more concentrated type of ‘sour acid sugar candy’ makes chocolate and other old-fashioned candy look ‘safe’ in comparison,” Feltham stated. “I warn my patients to carefully check candy labels for these types of acids and sugars. I have yet to find candy companies list on labels the pH level of their candies.”

Common names of various citrus acids found in ‘sour acid sugar candy’ include: citric, malic, tartaric, fumaric and lactic acid. So, parents should check their children’s ‘trick or treat’ bags for this destructive candy and toss it out!

Erika Feltham is affiliated with the dental office of Dr. Ed Stewart and Dr. Charles Basso.


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