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It's easy to have a love-hate relationship with Halloween. On one hand, kids look crazy cute in their costumes, but on the other, the amount of candy they collect and consume is overwhelming -- and worse, it spells trouble for their teeth. Right?
Keep it all in perspective, says John R. Liu, DDS, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. "Good oral hygiene habits year-round will ensure that one night of trick-or-treating won't harm your child's teeth," says Dr. Liu. "My hope is that most kids already have a healthy habit of eating candy in moderation and, on occasion, as a treat after meals." Here, Dr. Liu's suggestions for keeping tooth troubles at bay on this day when sweets reign supreme:
Encourage kids to avoid squishy, sticky candies
These can get stuck in between the teeth and stay there for long periods of time as the candy slowly dissolves. "This acts like a time-release capsule and allows the presence of sugar to be in the mouth for a much longer period of time," Dr. Liu says.
Be the tooth-healthy house on the block
Consider passing out healthier treats to ghouls and goblins such as cracker snack-packs, trail mix packs or rice crispy treats. (Or raisins if you're not afraid of some grumpy ghouls.)
Monitor candy consumption
Allow kids to eat a few favorite Halloween treats in the week following Halloween and then consider donating the rest to a food bank.
Treat Halloween as a dentist appointment reminder
Are your kids due? Get them on the calendar -- post-Halloween is the perfect time for them to get a thorough cleaning.