By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Kids and adults alike will be eating lots of candy this week after trick-or-treating.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $2.7 billion on Halloween candy this year. That’s a lot of sugar.

So, why is sugar bad for our teeth? Good Question.

“The reason we get cavities is bacteria, teeth, sugar and time,” Dr. Elise Sarvas, a pediatric dentist with the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, said.

The bacteria that causes cavities are fueled by sugar. When bacteria eat the sugar, it causes acid to form on the top of the teeth. Over time, that acid wears away at the tooth structure and can cause a hole, which is considered a cavity.

Sugar can be found in lots of foods, like crackers, ketchup or yogurt.

“Candy is so dangerous because it sticks to the teeth and it can stick in the groove,” Sarvas said.

She pointed out it’s not necessarily the amount of sugar people eat, but rather the kind and how long it stays on their teeth.

Chocolate is safer than chewy candy, and quick bites are better than a long-lasting lollipop. Dark chocolate also has some antioxidants that make it less likely to stick to the teeth.

Dentists stress it’s important to brush and floss after eating sugar and before bed. People don’t produce as much naturally protective saliva when they sleep.

Brushing removes the sugar from the teeth causing the bacteria to starve.

Heather Brown