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Dentists seem to have a love-hate relationship with Halloween. We can just about see an uptick in cavities in the months following it, which is good for business. On the other hand, we want to promote good oral health and preventative care and we’d rather not see people deal with the pain and expense of getting cavities filled. We already have enough to keep us busy, as around a third of children at the ages of 5 and 12 have visible signs of tooth decay. It’s not actually the sugar that causes problems; rather, it feeds bacteria, which in turn produce large amounts of tooth-destroying acids.

The good news is, it is possible to safely indulge for Halloween. According to HealthCanal.com, there are some basic measures parents can take to help reduce tooth damage – either during Halloween, or any time.

* It is not just the amount of sweets consumed that causes tooth decay – it is how often they are eaten. It is better to eat a lot of sweets all at once, rather than a smaller amount throughout the day.

* Every time children eat or drink anything sugary, their teeth are under attack for up to one hour. It’s better to let them have their fill all at once, then take the sweets away until the next session.

* After the kids have had their fill of sweets for the day, immediately have them rinse, brush and floss.

* Salivation is good. More saliva washes away sugar and acids. Sugar-free gum and drinking water will help reduce and/or wash away acids. Provide water with their candy.

* Alkaline foods like cheese can help to neutralize the build-up of acid in children’s mouths.

* Fruit snacks are not really fruity. They are basically candy that are high in sugar and are not necessarily a healthier option for children’s teeth.

Sugar-free gum is actually beneficial for teeth, as it promotes salivation, wipes off the surfaces of teeth and dislodges food particles. If you wanted to provide a tooth-friendly treat, sugarless gum would work well.