Dentists warn of link between sour candy and tooth damage - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Nov. 21st, 2008

Dentists warn of link between sour candy and tooth damage



(Minneapolis, MN) -- Alarmed by the growing number of children with permanent erosion of the dental enamel on their teeth, the Minnesota Dental Association is launching a public awareness campaign to alert young people and their parents to the link between increasingly popular sour candies and dental erosion. 

An article in AGD Impact, the newsmagazine from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), summarizes how the growing popularity of sour candies, with the intense or extreme "sweet and sour" flavor experience has led to a new source of dietary acid which increases the frequency of the acid attack on the teeth. 

The extremely low pH levels found in most of these popular candies, combined with immature tooth enamel in young children and frequent sucking and chewing of these candies, is the cause of concern.  Teeth lacking protective enamel are prone to tooth decay and can even lead to permanent tooth loss. 


The AGD Impact article documents research conducted by University of Alabama School of Dentistry Professor Dr. John Ruby which found that many of the popular sweet and sour candies today are nearly as acidic as battery acid.

While battery acid has a low pH level of 1, so do many candies including:  WarHeads Sour Spray (1.6), Wonka Fun Dip Power (1.8) and Altoids Mango Sours (1.9).   Some of the candy is so acidic it carries warnings about potential soft tissue irritation to the cheeks and gums.  

"The destructive potential of acid in soda pop and some fruit drinks has been known for some time but we felt it important to get this new information out to parents," said Dr. Robyn Loewen, a pediatric dentist from Rochester, MN and author of the journal article.  "These candies are inviting, and appear flavorful and fun, but they can produce lifetime consequences."

When different candy flavors are compared, research has shown that fruit flavors such as lemon, grape and cherry destroy more enamel than the flavors cinnamon and mint. Gummy, sticky or gel-like candies are particularly harmful due to the amount of time they take to consume. Holding the acid in your mouth by prolonged candy sucking or chewing prolongs the acid attack.  And repeatedly sucking or chewing each new piece of candy can prolong the damage.

Acid weakens the tooth enamel and teeth without the protective enamel are prone to tooth decay.  The teeth can also become more sensitive to consuming hot, cold or sweet food and drinks.  And the teeth take on a slight yellow appearance due to enamel thinning and exposure of the yellow dentin below.


While tooth erosion is hard to spot in early stages, there are some warning signs, including increased tooth sensitivity and a slight yellowing of the teeth.  The front teeth can appear transparent along the biting edges.  As it becomes more severe, dents, known as cupping, can appear on the chewing surfaces. 


The best protection against tooth erosion is preventing acid attacks on your teeth.  Eliminating or decreasing consumption of sour candies, and other acid producing food and drinks, is a first line of defense. 

  • Don't suck or chew the candies for long periods of time.
  • Swish or rinse your mouth with water after eating the candy.
  • Milk or cheese afterwards will also neutralize the acid.
  • Chew sugar-free gum to produce saliva which protects tooth enamel.
  • Wait one hour to brush teeth because brushing the surface right after an acid attack can increase the effect of the acid.


The Minnesota Dental Association's newest public awareness campaign, "The Power of Sour on Your Teeth," is a sequel to the Association's nationally award winning campaign on the damaging effects of soda pop known as "Sip All Day, Get Decay".  That campaign helped contribute to widespread changes including what types of drinks are available to students in schools across the country.

The Power of Sour Campaign is being launched through public awareness, educational materials for teachers and school nurses, and posters and brochures that are being made available to every dental association in the United States.

"The dental profession is committed to being an advocate for dental health," said MDA President, Dr. Lee Jess. "We felt this was important information that might otherwise go unnoticed."

The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing 83% of practicing dentists.  It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans.  Learn more at:

Read article:

Power of Sour Campaign:

Powered by Frankly