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Tips For Avoiding Cavities On Halloween

OSSINING, N.Y . – Sandrine Gracio was buying M&Ms at CVS on Friday to prepare for Halloween trick-or-treaters.

"(The kids) should enjoy themselves for the season," said Gracio, of Cortlandt Manor, who wasn't worried about her son developing cavities because at 11 months old, he doesn't eat food yet.

Maria Schuttenberg of Elmsford was a little more health conscious about her candy choices at CVS.

"I try to get something not too sugary – sugarless gum, Raisinettes and non-fattening candy like Twizzlers and fat-free Swedish fish," said Schuttenberg, who has 16-year-old grandkids who are watching their weight. "I sometimes give them money, actually, (instead of candy)."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes 180 pounds of sugar and 24.7 pounds of candy per year, statistics that bring us right to Halloween — only a few Snickers bars away. For most children, this means gobs of Gobstompers that will keep them sugared up till the spring thaw. But for parents, Oct. 31 means a grab bag of health challenges.

The American Dental Association has suggestions for parents so their kids can maintain good oral health despite Halloween and throughout the year.

Halloween candy — and other sugary foods — should be consumed with meals, because saliva production increases while eating. This helps neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and helps rinse away food particles.

Hard candy and sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time should be avoided. The length of time food remains in the mouth plays a role in hastening tooth decay. Unless it is sugar-free, hard candy subjects teeth to prolonged acid attack, which increases risk for tooth decay.

Avoid sticky candies that cling to the teeth, including taffy and gummy bears, among others. These confections take longer to get washed away by saliva and increase the risk for tooth decay. Drink more water – fluoridated if possible. Fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay.

Jane Calderon of Ossining said she doesn't usually buy candy, but Halloween is an exception. "My kids are older now, but we always used to pool the candy so there wouldn't be fights," she said. "I try to buy stuff I don't like so I don't get tempted."

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