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How to keep Halloween fun – and healthier for teeth

The candy is coming! To maintain good oral health at Halloween time, the University of Washington’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry offers these tips, as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA):

1. Time it right

Try to let children eat their Halloween candy during meals or shortly after. Saliva production increases while eating a full meal, which helps cancel out harmful acids in the mouth and rinse away food particles. This way children can enjoy their candy while their mouth is already hard at work fighting bacteria.

2. Have a plan

Trick-or-treaters wind up with different kinds of candy during Halloween – perennial favorites and others like love-it-or-hate-it candy corn. While it’s tempting to keep the whole stash, try to have your family pick their favorites at the beginning and give away or discard the rest. That way, at least the candy that everyone is eating is fully appreciated. The ADA recommends donating the candy to organizations that support troops overseas, like Operation Gratitude, or finding candy take-back programs.

3. Drink more water

This simple tip is healthy in several ways. If you can, try to drink fluoridated water, which can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.

4. Choose candy carefully

Certain sweets can 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. That’s why hard candy, as well as sticky candies (like taffy and gummy bears), can increase the risk of tooth decay. The stickier the candy, the longer it takes for saliva to wash it away

These tips can help make Halloween healthier and still fun. And to schedule a check-up after the candy is all gone, visit the UW’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry.