means bags of free candy and a chance to build a
stockpile of sweets for the winter. No surprise, Halloween
can also present parents with a variety of health and
safety challenges. “It’s OK to eat that candy on
Halloween but it’s important to have a plan,” says ADA
dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty.
Here's how you can help your family stay MouthHealthy
on Halloween and year-round.
Time It Right
Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods)
with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production
increases during meals. This helps cancel out acids
produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away
Stay Away from Sweet Snacks
Snacking can increase your risk of cavities, and it’s
double the trouble if you keep grabbing sugary
treats from the candy bowl. ”Snacking on candy
throughout the day is not ideal for your dental health
or diet,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says
Choose Candy Carefully
Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in
your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often
you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your
mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is
a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the
mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an
increased risk for tooth decay.
Avoid Sticky Situations
Sticky candies cling to your teeth. The stickier
candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to
get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth
Have a Plan
It’s tempting to keep that candy around, but your teeth
will thank you if you limit your stash. “Have your
family pick their favorites and donate the rest,”
Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. “Look for organizations that
help you donate candy to troops overseas, like
Operation Gratitude, or see if your dentist has a
candy take-back program.”
Drink More Water
Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth
decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your body is like a complex machine. The foods
you choose as fuel and how often you "fill up" affect
your general health and that of your teeth and gums.
Stay Away from Sugary Beverages
This includes soda, sports drinks and flavored waters.
When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages
that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.
Chew Gum with the ADA Seal
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals
helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva
flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid
produced by bacteria. “You might even want to
think about giving sugarless gum out as a treat instead
of candy,” says Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty.
Find one with the ADA Seal.
Brush Twice a Day
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes
with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
Remember, replace your toothbrush every three or
four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn
toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
Clean Between Your Teeth
Floss your teeth once a day. Decay-causing bacteria
get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't
reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles
from between the teeth and under the gum line.
Visit an ADA Dentist
Regular visits to your ADA-member dentist can help
prevent problems from occurring and catch those
that do occur early, when they are easy to "treat."