It’s October and time for Halloween! It's great fun for children, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, collecting candy, coming home to admire their haul, and sometimes stockpiling it for months.

But dentists aren’t nearly as enamored with Halloween, because they know the possible ramifications of eating candy: not only damage to the teeth and gums but also possibly to a child's overall health.

You already know that having healthy teeth and gums has an impact that goes far beyond the mouth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, periodontal disease and infection, which can impact a patient's heart, lungs, and entire body.

Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer at Western Dental & Orthodontics, has five tips on candy for patients of all ages:

1. Choose candy carefully.

Avoid hard candy, such as lollipops, and other sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time. These candies increase the risk for tooth decay.

2. Avoid chewy candy.

Chewy, sticky treats, such as caramels or gummies, are particularly damaging as they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, and are more difficult for saliva to break down.

3. Chocolate is preferable.

Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, decreasing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth.

4. Eat Halloween candy only after mealtime.

Parents should avoid letting their kids snack on candy throughout the day. Saliva production increases during meals, helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.

5. Take preventive steps.

Drinking water intermittently helps to keep the sugar from resting in the grooves of their teeth. And while you might be tired of hearing it, brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly before going to bed are crucial.

By exercising good common sense, you’ll maintain a bright smile and healthy gums throughout the Halloween season and beyond. Happy Halloween!

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