Fancy the Fangs?Halloween means bags of free candy and a chance to stockpile sweets for the winter. Being one of the most fun times of the year for families, Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health and safety challenges—specifically for teeth!

The American Dental Association has prepared a list of 10 rules parents can set as those candy bags dwindle.

Consume candy and other sugary foods with meals.
Saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.

Avoid hard candy and sweets that remain in your mouth.
Besides how often you snack, the length of time food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to prolonged acid attack.

Avoid sticky, clingy candies.
The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.

Drink water.
Consuming optimally fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, check the label for the fluoride content.

Eat well.
Your body is a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums. Choose nutritious meals.Avoid sugary beverages.
When teeth come in frequent contact with soda, sports drinks, or flavored water, the risk of tooth decay is increased.

Chew gum with the ADA Seal.
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals has been shown to reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria.

Brush twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
Replace your toothbrush every 3–4 months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
Decay-causing bacteria linger where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

Visit an ADA-member dentist for more information on maintaining oral health.