Lonely Planet's guide to Mongolia mentions, in a section about visiting the Tsaatan (Цаатан) people and "Do"s and "Don't"s for tourists, not to give them sweets as gifts, as there's no dentist there.

As a rough guide, in what places is it ill-advised to give sweets as gifts for dental reasons? Places where people can't afford toothpaste? Places without dentists, and/or where people can't afford them? Places where people don't use fluoridation of one sort or another?

Also, what kind of foods are unsafe to give for this reason? For example, would Milo be unsafe?

  • "places with no fluoridation" basically means "everywhere besides the US (with minor exceptions)" (source). – o0'. Jun 22 '15 at 22:23
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    @lohoris that'd be news to this Australian. – Andrew Grimm Jun 22 '15 at 22:24
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    @andrewGrimm Didn't you know? No matter the question, everywhere outside the U.S. is a minor exception ;) – Calchas Jun 22 '15 at 22:37
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    There are places outside the US? who'd have thunked it? – emory Jul 2 '15 at 0:07
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    @Lohoris, my comment was intended to be ironic ;) I agree with your sentiment. – Calchas Jul 26 '15 at 12:29

The places where children have easy access to dentists and toothbrushes are generally the places where children have easy access to candy and don't need or particularly want any from you. If you came to Canada to see Niagara Falls or the Rocky Mountains and were handing candy to any Canadian children you saw, people wouldn't think you were being at all normal. Ditto England, New Zealand, etc.

If you think of the place you're going as a place that needs your donations, consider this advice from Pack For a Purpose:

Candy and balloons are not on the needs list as they are harmful for the children and the environment for the following reasons:

  • Few of the children benefiting from these projects have access to toothpaste, toothbrushes, or a dentist. The candy promotes cavities.
  • The balloons once they become deflated are a choking hazard for local wildlife.

Instead of bringing candy or balloons, use that space for additional requested supplies, as they are priceless.

I'm bringing school supplies to Vanuatu and also two dozen pencils with Canadian flags on them to give to random people who are nice to us as a thankyou. (Hotel staff, cab drivers, air crew etc.)

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    The most recent place I bought sweets to was Japan, which does have sweets, just different ones from Australia. – Andrew Grimm Jul 26 '15 at 5:40
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    @AndrewGrimm Why did you edit it and worse, try to force your edit against Kate's wishes? It's her answer, you can comment but should leave it at that. – Relaxed Jul 26 '15 at 7:08
  • @AndrewGrimm probably because the passage you wish to delete was not intended as a joke. I also do not find it to be in poor taste. If you make an edit to a post and the post's author rolls it back, you should probably respect that. It's her post, after all. – phoog Jul 26 '15 at 7:10
  • I've undid a new edit I made to Kate's answer. – Andrew Grimm Jul 26 '15 at 8:07
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    @AndrewGrimm fair enough, I believe most tourist advice about candy is referring to dispensing it to random children you see on the street. If you want to bring a box of it as a gift to your hosts I think that's entirely different and less of an issue. I certainly assumed that handfuls to random kids is what you were referring to, but it's true you don't mention that at all - I just assumed. – Kate Gregory Jul 26 '15 at 10:53

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