It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, which means plenty of people are sweating over picking out the perfect Valentine’s Day gift to communicate their affection to their loved ones. The traditional options are pretty limited: Flowers, jewelry, candy. And the latter is by far the most affordable. But you may want to reconsider the prettily-packaged sweet treats that deck the shelves of all the stores in February — that is, unless you want to gift your Valentine some cavities in a heart-shaped box.
The Worst Valentine’s Candies For Teeth
Valentine’s Day may be second only to Halloween when it comes to the worst holidays for teeth. Nearly every edible gift with hearts on the packaging can do damage to teeth this month. Here’s how:
- Caramel and other sticky candies are basically just edible plaster that glues sugar to your teeth, which leads to tooth decay. A thorough tooth-brushing and flossing after eating sticky candy can help, but the better option is avoiding it altogether.
- Chocolates are packed full of cavity-causing sugar, all wrapped up in a soft material that easily gets stuck to teeth. Worse yet, some chocolates have caramel inside them for a dental double whammy. Instead, opt for dark chocolate, which has a lower sugar content and isn’t as sticky.
- Hard candies are kept in the mouth for so long, they’re essentially marinating your teeth in sugar water. While hard candies don’t feel like they’re sticking to your teeth the way sticky candies do, those sugar particles infuse your saliva and get into every nook and cranny of your mouth. Plus, biting down on a hard candy could lead to tooth trauma like a crack or a chip.
- Sour candies may not taste sweet, but they’re still packed with sugar. Plus, that sour tang is achieved by adding acid to the candy, and that acid is also very good at wearing down your enamel. This weakens your teeth’s defenses and makes it easier for bacteria to take hold and form cavities.
Having second thoughts about Valentine’s Day candy? Here are a few healthier alternatives.
Tooth-Healthy Gifts for Your Valentine
Unfortunately, it isn’t especially romantic to gift your date a toothbrush and some travel-sized toothpaste! But you can still protect your Valentine’s oral health by avoiding the candies and sweets that endanger their teeth. Instead, try a more creative gift that doesn’t rely on high sugar content to tell your date how sweet they are.
For example, a mixtape may be old news–or maybe your Valentine will think it’s retro-cool–but a custom playlist is a thoughtful way to tell your Valentine how you feel. And it’s free! A love letter or a handwritten card will communicate your affection better than a heart-shaped box of chocolates ever could. Best of all, an out-of-the-box date gives the gift of a meaningful experience together, memories of which will stick around far longer than candy ever will. (Except maybe conversation hearts… those things never seem to go bad!)