Halloween is right around the corner. For most kids, this means costumes, parties, and a big sack full of candy that will last to Christmas. Most dentists agree that it’s ok to have some Halloween candy. Here’s how you can help your family keep healthy mouths throughout the sweet, holiday season.

1. The Right Time

Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. While Halloween candy is definitely not a Thanksgiving side dish, it is recommended to eat candy after mealtimes. Saliva production increases during meals. This helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.

2. Say Goodbye to Sweet Halloween Snacks

Snacking can increase your risk of cavities, and it’s double trouble if you keep grabbing sugary treats from the candy bowl. It is bad for gut health and oral health.

3. Candy is a Choice

Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how frequently you snack, the length of time you put a piece of sticky candy in your mouth will increase the amount of sugar that’s left on your teeth.

4. Sticky Teeth are Unhealthy Teeth

Sticky candies cling to your teeth. Saliva doesn’t break down stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, as quickly, increasing the risk for tooth decay.

5. Plan it Out

It’s tempting to keep that candy around until Christmas, but having limited amounts will help you stick to your diet plan, and not your teeth.

6. Drink More (Flouride) Water

Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that contain Flouride.

7. Moderation is Key

Your body is a complex machine. The foods you choose to put into are essentially gas or fuel to help propel your body throughout the day. One to two pieces of candy is fine, but snacking on it throughout the day can be detrimental to your recommended caloric intake.

8. Don’t Drink Your Calories

This includes popular sodas, sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, and even “healthy” drinks that are secretly riddled with sugar. Check the nutrition facts on your favorite Starbucks drinks, which can be a minefield for added sugar. Here’s how sugary drinks affect teeth.

9. Chew Sugarless Gum

Chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals. It will help reduce tooth decay because it increases the flow of saliva. This helps wash food out and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria. The best way to get rid of unwanted food bits is to floss and brush after every meal.

10. Brush Twice a Day

Brush your teeth right after breakfast and dinner with a dentist-approved toothbrush. Not sure if your toothbrush passes the tooth test? Look for an ADA seal, or consult your dentist at your next visit. Toothbrushes like Oral B 5000 have been reviewed extensively by dentists around the country.

11. Clean Between Your Teeth

Floss your teeth at least once a day. If you have braces, you can try these tips. The decay causes bacteria to 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. It is best to floss right after dinner, where you can remove all bits that have been stuck in your teeth all day.

12. Visit your dentist

When was the last time you saw a dentist for a checkup? It is recommended you see your dentist twice a year for routine cleanings and checkups. Here’s how to prepare for a dental visit. You can request appointments online.

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