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Six Easy Tricks and Treats to Keep Children’s Teeth Healthy this Halloween

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S. according to the American Dental Association (ADA)

Goblins and ghouls! Witches and ghosts! Costumes and candy, and candy and more candy … oh my! It's a time of year to which children look forward and makes parents cringe. The Halloween season and its accompanying deluge of candy is here. It’s a frightening time of year. Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S. according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The organization estimates 51 million school hours each year are missed due to dental disease. Among school-age children, tooth decay is the most common chronic illness.

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There are a few easy ways to make both kids and adults happy on Halloween and the following days, however. Dr. Holly Ellis, DDS, owner of Ellis Dental in Crestwood, Mo. offers the following six tricks to keep children’s smiles happy and healthy this Halloween:

When to eat candy: Eat Halloween candy, and other sugary foods, with meals or shortly thereafter. This helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and rinses away food particles, as saliva production increases during meals.

Snacking on sweets throughout the day can increase the risk of cavities. It also can wreak havoc on other parts of the body. Ellis suggests limiting sweets to only a few select pieces, once a day.

What are the worst types of candy? The stickier the candy, the longer sugar remains on teeth, which isn't ideal. It is best to avoid chewy candies such as taffy and gummy bears. Hard candy also stays in the mouth longer, increasing the risk of tooth decay.

The best types of candy. Chocolate is one of the better candies to eat and give out on Halloween. It does not stick to teeth like other candies. Dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate.

Water. Drinking water can help prevent tooth decay. Keeping the mouth salivated especially after eating candy is one of the best methods of preventing tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for those that are fluoridated and stay away from sugary drinks.

Brushing. Brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time is one of the most-effective ways to combat the effects of Halloween candy. Ellis also recommends patients add in flossing, to make it a winning combination. “Promoting the habit of brushing at an early age is vital for not only the health of a child’s teeth and gums, but for their overall health,” Ellis said.