(480) 899-52402470 West Ray Road Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85224

Daniel G. Kline DDS - Chandler Dentist

(480) 899-5240

2470 West Ray Road Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85224

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Sugar-Skulls and Healthy Teeth

Posted by Editor in , on November 1, 2017

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, comes on the heels of Halloween and is a wildly popular holiday in Mexico and around the world. However, if you’re trying to cut down on your sugar intake, you might worry about temptations if you’re attending a Day of the Dead event. Those beautiful, brightly decorated sugar skulls are usually made from cane sugar, but aren’t traditionally meant to be consumed.

Also known as calaveras (the Spanish word for “skull”), skull motifs are hand-made. In Mexico, you’ll find them crafted from sugar, clay, nuts, chocolate and a variety of other seemingly “edible” materials. However, the term calavera can mean any skull representation and you might find them decorated with beads, feathers, icing and more accessories.

The good news? If you want to celebrate your ancestors who have passed with a Day of the Dead event, remember that actually eating the calaveras is frowned upon by traditionalists.

History in the Making

The creation of calaveras has been in practice since the 15th century. Molds are often used, and it can take several hours to create a single calavera. Real traditionalists can take half a year of production prep! Calaveras are a form of folk art, which means there’s much more focus on aesthetics than taste (or hygiene).

Of course, today there are many calaveras which are designed specifically for consumption. They’re usually made of a single piece of sugar cane (flavored or not), which chocolate is also gaining in popularity. Vegetable dyes are used for coloring. If you are tempted by a beautiful and delicious sugar skull, bear in mind just how damaging pure cane sugar can be on your teeth. Instead, reach for one of the dark chocolate calaveras (the darker the better). It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, minimize damage to the teeth, and dark chocolate is good for your heart.

It’s a myth that “sugar causes cavities” (acid is actually the culprit), but sugar and the bacteria in your mouth have a tumultuous relationship. When you eat sugar, the bacteria does, too. Bacteria is living, which means it produces waste—and that waste is acidic. After bacteria “eats” the sugar, it releases acid, and your teeth suffer as a result. Enamel is tough, but its Achilles heel is acid.

Conserve your indulgences for treats you really adore, and swap out alternatives (like dark chocolate) when you can. The good news is that, usually, sugar skulls look much better than they taste. Ultimately, eating one is akin to downing a few spoons of pure sugar. Wouldn’t you rather save your treats for something a little big tastier?