With the frequency of school events, birthday parties, and holidays, it can be difficult to prevent your kids from enjoying candy—no matter how strong your willpower against it may be. While we, of course, recommend limiting your child’s intake of candy as much as possible for good dental health, it is still worthwhile to know that some forms of candy are better (and worse) than others for your teeth. Here is a breakdown on which types of candy to avoid as much as possible, and which ones may be a little more permissible for you and your children to indulge in moderation.

Types of Candy to Avoid

Hard Candy

This especially applies to lollipops and hand candies that remain in the mouth for an extended period of time. They make for long-term exposure of sugar to the teeth and thus carry a higher potential for causing tooth decay. Moreover, children tend to bite down on these candies before letting them dissolve, which could result in further tooth damage.

Caramels and Gummies

Much like hard candy, caramels have a tendency to sit in the mouth for longer periods of time. They, along with gummy forms of candy, also tend to stick to the tooth’s surface—a perfect recipe for cavities.

Sour Candies

These types of candy are particularly acidic, and their high acid content can work to break down tooth enamel quickly.

Types of Candy that Are More Permissible

Dark Chocolate

With the antioxidants that are found in dark chocolate, some argue that it is actually good for your teeth. In fact, according to researchers at Osaka University in Japan, the tannins (one type of antioxidant) in dark chocolate actually work to kill bad bacteria in the mouth and thus help prevent tooth decay. Be careful with this option, though—the closer the chocolate is to the natural cocoa bean, the better.

Other Types of Chocolate

While other types of chocolate are not going to be quite as good for the teeth as dark chocolate, it should be noted that chocolate does carry the advantage of dissolving quickly in the mouth. This means it gives your teeth less exposure to sugar than hard and gummy candies do.

Sugar-free Hard Candies

While hard candies definitely have a bad rap in the dental hygiene realm, their sugar-free counterparts aren’t quite as bad. In fact, the extra saliva they help stimulate in the mouth will help to fend off plaque build-up.