Holmdel Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

Which Candy Cane is Best for Your Teeth?

By Wayne Aldredge, DMD on December 20, 2023

 

 

No other sweet says "Christmas!" the way a colorful candy cane does.  Not even sugar plums.  Throughout the holiday season we see those striped symbols in all sizes from giant outdoor candy canes to tiny candy cane earrings.

While you can't avoid them, you can satisfy your candy cane craving wisely while protecting your oral health.

Where Did Candy Canes Come From?

Candy canes date back to 17th century Europe.  One popular story says that in 1670 a German choirmaster gave his younger singers candy sticks to keep them mum between songs at a Christmas service. Eventually a hook was added to resemble a shepherd's crook. Others say they'd been developed earlier, and the hooks were to hang them on Christmas trees, as many still do today.

The familiar red stripes were added later and became standard.  These days 1.76 billion candy canes are produced in the U.S. annually, with only one controversy:how to eat them.  72 percent of people think that starting on the straight end is the "proper" way to eat a candy cane, while 28 percent start at the curved end.  

Extra Plaque Alert!

No matter where they come from, candy canes have an enormous amount of sugar, the enemy of healthy teeth and healthy gums.  Sugar mixes with the bacteria that is naturally in our mouths to form plaque on our teeth. We form plaque every day and brush it away at night. We also brush or at least rinse after eating candy. Candy canes can trick us, because they are meant to be enjoyed slowly, leaving that sugar source sitting in the mouth producing plaque for a long time. The more plaque on your teeth and gums, the more effort it takes to remove it, the more chance of plaque bacteria causing damage at the gumline.

Our best advice? Take breaks from the sugar stick, rinse your mouth and drink water to break up the plaque formation.  Saliva serves the same purpose so don't let your mouth get dry.

Oh, and the best candy cane for your teeth? The very smallest one you can find.

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