The candy we see on the shelves today isn’t what it used to be. Sour candy, for one, has evolved into more than just a sugary treat, but a game, one that marketing companies are targeting specifically toward children. And the effects of sour candy on kids’ teeth are proving to be particularly harmful.
The idea is to go “extreme,” with brightly colored packages that challenge kids to hold the candy in their mouths for as long as possible as the flavor intensifies from sour to eye watering. Oversized sourballs, candy in the shape of pacifiers, sour sprays, and miniature baby bottles filled with citric acid-laced powder are all the rave. They are also contributing to the growing prevalence of dental erosion. Here’s why:
“Extreme” sour candies have lower pH levels than soda. Citric acid, a common sour flavoring agent, is extremely erosive to tooth enamel. The sour candy game is designed to last, and the substance itself is abrasive, with starchy, gummy, and sticky consistencies that can demineralize the teeth over time.
Erosion from acidic solids has been shown to take a toll on posterior teeth in particular, creating a cupping effect due to enamel loss. Sour candy is usually stocked in the front of the aisle. Next time you spy the interesting packaging styles and colorful labeling in the store, talk freely with the kids about the messages they contain. You may help curb the kids’ appetite for sour candies and sweets in general by ensuring that healthy alternatives like yogurt and fruit are readily available. Frequent brushing and keeping up with dental exams also help!