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It’s that time of the year, time for ghosts, ghouls, and cavities!

Okay, well maybe not right away, but Halloween is one of the most sugary days of the year. And, it’s just the beginning of the sweets and treats season. For the next couple of months, there will be no shortage of candies, cakes and cookies, at school, at home and at parties and gatherings. With all that extra sugar, it is even more important to guard against the evils of tooth decay.

Of course, good dental hygiene is important no matter what day of the year, but as we know, prolonged exposure to sugary foods can cause tooth decay, and it happens faster than you think! To get through Halloween and the holiday season without any cavities, follow these dental tips:

First and foremost, regular brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent tooth decay. Adding an ADA approved oral rinse provides extra protection. Rinsing the mouth between brushing is also a good way to prevent bacteria from building up and acids from damaging tooth enamel.

Not all candy is created equal, and some are harder on the teeth than others. The longer the teeth are exposed to sugars and acids, the more likely to cause decay. Try to avoid or limit hard candies that stay in the mouth for prolonged periods of time. Same goes for chewy candy like taffy that can stick to and in between the teeth.

Encourage your kids to drink lots of water while sampling their treats. This will help wash away the sugar, reducing contact with the enamel. Avoid sodas and other sugary drinks. Sports drinks and flavored water are also no good for the teeth, especially in combination with candy.

Try to save the candy for directly after meals. The mouth produces more saliva during and after mealtime, which helps balance out the acids and wash away bacteria and particles.

Chew gum. ADA approved sugar-free gum, that is. Chewing for 20 minutes after meals helps prevent tooth decay by increasing saliva production.

It isn’t necessary to ban candy and treats this time of year, but following these dental tips can help prevent new cavities from developing. Remember, daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and regular visits to the dentist are the best way to keep teeth healthy and free of tooth decay. Following these simple dental tips should keep your teeth safe from zombies, ghosts and cavities throughout the year.