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Minimizing damage to your kids' teeth when they dig into their Halloween candy

(iStock Photo)

If you're going to have candy, better to eat it all at once instead of spreading it out throughout the day

Dentist says best time to have candy is right after a meal because you already have saliva in your mouth

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Your kids are about to be inundated with candy and chocolate, collected with their own sweat while trick-or-treating. But once they come back with that haul, there is an optimal plan of attack.

“The best time to have candy is right after a meal because you already have a lot of saliva in your mouth,” says Dr. Trista Felty, an orthodontist and board member with the BC Dental Association (BCDA).

“It’s not so much the amount that you’re eating, but rather how often you’re eating it. So if you’re going to have 10 pieces of candy, it’s better to have it all at once as opposed to spreading it out and having it 10 times over the course of a day.”

“You don’t want to have the sugar content in your mouth frequently; it’s more just kind of once. Then you can always rinse afterwards to clean it out or you could always go do a brush. But you don’t want to have the sugar in your mouth all day long.”

She says contrary to popular opinion, dentists don’t hate or fear Halloween.

“For most dentists, we handle Halloween like a cheat day. We don’t expect kids to not have candy on Halloween but it’s more about setting up healthy eating habits throughout the year and then it’s fine that they have Halloween as their special day to have some candy and enjoy it and to trick-or-treating and to have fun,” says Felty.

“A lot of dental offices do candy buy-back programs. So, kids can take the candy that they’ve collected into their dentist’s office and a lot of times they’ll buy the candy back from them. So they can just get rid of the candy which mom and dad might like anyways and they can get some cash in return which is always good.”

And when it comes to the best and worst treats for your teeth, Felty says it’s pretty much what you’d expect.

“Ideally anything that is sugar-free — which a lot of bubble gums are nowadays — and lots of candy is sugar-free or low-sugar content. But mostly just avoiding really sticky foods. Because those sticky foods are the ones that tend to kind of stay on your teeth like those taffies that kind of get stuck in the grooves and are a little bit harder for kids to clean out in general.”

She adds it’s mostly common sense and the majority of kids already know what to avoid.

“Just being careful, I guess, with really hard candies. If they have any types of braces or appliances in their mouths, they’re already going to know some of the things that they can and can’t have so just being cognizant of that and avoiding really hard foods or really sticky foods with appliances as well.”