Halloween is just around the corner, and for kids that means free candy. And free candy means an increased need to ensure you’re taking the proper steps to maintain adequate oral health. Candy is not only loaded with sugar, but is very acidic, and can have adverse impacts on the teeth if proper precautions are not considered. Here are a few tricks for treaters from BellaVista Dental Care’s Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar that will allow you to enjoy Halloween while keeping oral health in mind.

Avoid hard candy and sticky candy

“Any candy that takes a long time to dissolve gives a lot more time for sugar and acidity to build in the mouth,” she said. “Hard candies can also affect fillings. Things like chocolate are a better option. Anything you can eat quickly and be done with.”

Taffy-like candies can get stuck in the grooves of the teeth, making it very difficult to remove even after brushing. This helps promote debris in the mouth, which can lead to tooth decay.

Time your treats

Don’t spoil your appetite, but one of the best times to eat candy is close to mealtime.

“When you eat anything, you’re creating a more acidic environment in the mouth, and bacteria likes an acidic environment,” she says. “So, if you’re going to eat candy you want to eat close to mealtime since you’ll already be creating that environment. That way you give your mouth time to neutralize between meals.”

Drink more water

Drinking water washes away debris in the mouth and creates a less acidic environment in the mouth. This is particularly important if you’re not near a toothbrush.

“If you’re out trick-or-treating and you don’t have access to a toothbrush, chasing candy with water is a really helpful alternative,” said Bhatnagar.

And, as always, remember to always brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once per day.

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