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Hooray! It’s Halloween!

But dentists aren’t nearly as enamored with the holiday because they know the potential damage caused to teeth and gums (and to overall health) from eating too much Halloween candy.

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.

When evaluating the candy collected while trick-or-treating, consider these tips:

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 of tooth decay.

2. Avoid chewy candy

Chewy, sticky treats, such as caramels or gummies, are particularly damaging as they are high in sugar, spend extended 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 sugar from resting in the grooves of the teeth. And while you might be tired of hearing it, brushing and flossing 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.

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