Sour Candy: Trick or Treat?


    By Kacie Safford

    Sour candy may be more of a trick than a treat. Acidic levels in popular “new-generation” candy is so high, experts say it rivals the pH level of battery acid.

    A study from the California Dental Hygienists” Association comes as a timely heads-up as consumers clear candy aisle shelves to prepare for Halloween festivities.

    Halloween is the top-selling holiday for candy companies, according to the National Confectioners Association. Over the years, the association has found a distinct trend appeal from classic melt-in-your-mouth treats to intense, sour and fruity flavors.

    Although traditional candy bars remain favorites, the popularity of these relatively new tart candies like Sour Patch Kids or Pop Rocks shows that sour may be the new sweet.

    Perhaps the dangers of sour candy have been hiding behind all the hype soda presents in tooth decay. Sour fruity candies are more acidic than any soft drink. The pH scale ranges from 0 (totally acid) to 7 (neutral) to 14 (totally alkaline).

    A study done by the University of Alabama Dental School showed that WarHeads Sour Spray will wreak the most terror on your teeth, with a pH level of 1.6. Battery acid has a pH level of 1.0. Not far behind are Altoids Mango Sours and Wonka Pixie Sticks at 1.9.

    The California Dental Hygienists” Association cautions that sour candy can lead to increased cavities, tooth sensitivity, staining, soft-tissue sensitivities and loss of shine. They recommend parents avoid buying sour candies for trick-or-treaters, as well as removing them from the goody bags of their own children.

    Surprisingly, the worst thing to do right after eating sour candy is to brush your teeth. Acid softens tooth enamel, so brushing them abrasively will do more harm than good; rinsing with water is your best bet to combat cavities. Then brush later.

    Dr. Lora Beth Brown, a nutrition professor, said the real danger is the amount of time the candy is allowed to remain in contact with the plaque on your teeth.

    “It”s not so much the amount of candy eaten, but the frequency,” Brown said. “If you have to have it, eat it and be done with it.”

    Heather Benson, a dental hygienist who works a few days a week at Cougar Dental, doesn”t seem swayed by the new study.

    “I”m not about to swear off sour candy completely,” Benson said. “I love it too much.”

    Conveniently, chocolate is the easiest candy on teeth, with the least amount of residue left to harm the enamel.

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