Candy Canes and Cavities

Candy CanesThis time of year, peppermints are everywhere – from your Christmas tree to your bank teller’s window. Peppermints are deceptive. They leave your breath feeling minty fresh, so somehow, they seem virtuous. Your mouth feels clean, so it must be clean, right? Unfortunately, candy canes and most other peppermints are pure sugar – one of the most notorious causes of cavities. Before you pop one of those striped treats in your mouth, take a moment to reflect. Could your minty treat get you on Santa’s dental “Naughty List?”

Understanding Sugar and Cavities

Just as sugar gives your body a burst of energy, it is also a source of energy for harmful oral bacteria. As bacteria feed off of sugar, they multiply, forming harmful plaque that sticks on your teeth. The plaque will then produce acid, which will erode your dental enamel. At first, this process will make your enamel more porous (and, therefore, more susceptible to discoloration.) Over time, the acid will create tiny fissures in your teeth, which will eventually become larger cavities.

Better Choices for Dental Health

Although there’s no harm in enjoying an occasional Christmas treat, there are healthier ways to keep your breath fresh this season. Of course, brushing your teeth is the most effective solution. However, when you are out and about Christmas shopping or visiting relatives, you can’t always get away to brush. Sugar free mints will have little effect on your teeth, so consider slipping a holiday themed tin in your pocket, purse, or glove compartment.

However, peppermint gum is a better choice. You may be surprised to learn that sugar-free gum can actually have significant benefits for your dental health. Chewing after a meal stimulates saliva production and can help to wash away sugars, acid, and bits of food. Additionally, xylitol, the sweetener found in most sugar-free gum, can actually combat the formation of cavities. A natural product made from plants, xylitol helps neutralize acids, and it can prevent bacteria from adhering to your teeth. Thanks to the enormous benefits of sugarless gum, you may want to make regular gum chewing one of your New Year’s resolutions!



With over 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Steven M. Huffstutler and his caring team proudly provide exceptional preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment to patients and their families across Dallas/Ft. Worth, including North Richland Hills, Denton, the Mid-cities, Southlake, and all surrounding communities. We also have extensive experience helping patients find relief from painful TMJ disorders (various forms of jaw dysfunction). To schedule an appointment with Dr. Huffstutler, contact our office today by calling 817-918-3038.