Halloween Smile Savers

You may be able to resist dressing up for Halloween, but avoiding the candy can be a different story, no matter how old you are. Halloween officially kicks off the sugar-filled holiday season, so it's important to start taking extra-care of your teeth while you're consuming the extra sweets. "During the holidays large quantities of sugar are consumed and it's a time to be especially careful," says North Carolina Dental Society President Dr. Bob Hollowell.

Your dentist was telling you the truth when he or she told you sugar causes cavities. "When bacteria present in the mouth come into contact with sugar, they produce acid that attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or longer," Hollowell explains. "Repeated acid attacks can cause tooth enamel to break down, eventually resulting in decay."

Yet not all candy is equally harmful on your teeth. "Sticky candies such as gummies stick to the teeth longer, while others, such as chocolate are more quickly washed away with saliva or by rinsing. Hard sugary candies are held in the mouth longer, giving bacteria more time to create acid that weakens tooth enamel." What's the worst candy for your teeth? That would be the ever-popular sour candies, thanks to its high acid levels, Dr. Hollowell says.

Holidays are no time to deprive yourself and we think a few extra sweets in moderation are just fine. Especially if you follow these Halloween candy consumption tips from The North Carolina Dental Society:

· Consume candy with meals rather than as snacks, because saliva flow increases during a meal.

· Brush or rinse after eating candy.

· Chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals. The increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize acid produced by dental plaque bacteria.

· Don't suck on hard candy for a long period of time.

· Opt for quickly dissolved chocolates, as opposed to hard or sour candies.

· Use fluoride toothpaste or fluoride rinse to help remineralize tooth enamel broken down by acid.

· Avoid hard candy that can break a tooth or crack a crown.

· Don't nibble. It's better to enjoy several pieces of candy in one sitting (four small pieces of candy eaten all at once cause less damage to tooth enamel than eating four pieces over a longer period of time).

· Consider handing out healthy snacks like fruit or sugarless gum to Trick or Treaters.

· See your dentist during or after the holidays to detect tooth decay early.