Halloween is coming soon, and that means your child will collect enough candy for a small army. While the spooky fun holiday is one of the best things about being a kid, crunching, chewing and biting all that candy is one of the worst things for your child’s teeth.

But Halloween spoils don’t have to cause cavities in Kansas City because not all candy is created equally. Some are less damaging to your teeth than others, in fact. If you have a sweet tooth, here are a few of the safest and the scariest candies to indulge in:

Safe Candy

Dark chocolate: You may know that real dark chocolate is packed with nutrients and one of the best sources of antioxidants around. You also may know that it can lower your risk of heart disease, too. But did you know that it may be more effective than fluoride at fighting tooth decay, according to a few studies? That’s because a compound in chocolate helps harden tooth enamel. Even better, cocoa beans contain compounds that have an antibacterial effect that fights plaque. Don’t replace brushing with a square of dark chocolate but hey, it’s one candy that you’d be smart to eat on a regular basis.

Nutty candy bars: The stickier candy is, the worse it is for your teeth. But nuts can break up the stickiness of a piece of candy, and nuts contain protein and fiber to boot. Nuts also can break up some of the biofilm and scrub plaque off your teeth. Almonds are common in chocolate bars and high in calcium, which benefits teeth and bones. So if you like to snack on KIND bars or Payday bars, your dentist will probably approve.

Sugarless gum: According to the American Dental Association, chewing gum increases salivary flow in the mouth. If you chew gum after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on teeth. Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after you eat can help prevent tooth decay. Look for sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol, which has the added benefit of inhibiting the growth of an oral bacteria that causes cavities. According to studies, chewing gum with xylitol over a period of time will change the types of bacteria in your mouth and enable fewer decay-causing bacteria to survive on tooth surfaces.

Scary Candy

Sticky: Just say no to Tootsie Rolls, Sour Patch Kids, Laffy Taffy and anything sticky. Sticky candies increase the risk of developing cavities and, surprisingly, so does dried fruit. The stickiness and concentration of sugar is a bad one-two punch for your teeth. Try to avoid anything sticky and sugary to reduce cavities in Kansas City.

Suckers: The longer a candy is in your mouth, the worse your teeth fare. If the candy is eaten quickly, it’s much better than sucking on a candy for an hour, like with a lollipop or jawbreaker. For your teeth’s sake, limit frequency of exposure and brush and floss after indulging.

Acidic: Avoid, avoid, avoid acidic candies like gummy worms, Skittles and War Heads. Acid damages for your teeth because it wears down the tooth enamel, which protects teeth. In fact, eating sour candy is almost as bad for your teeth as eating battery acid. Battery acid has a pH level of 1.0, while Pixy Stix are pH 1.9. Parents, you might want to slip these truly scary candies out of your child’s treat bags and into the trash while they sleep.

When your kiddos bring home that trash bag full of goodies on Halloween night, you should separate the tricks from the treats and save their teeth. Of course, maintaining healthy teeth requires more than just avoiding candy. Make sure the entire family is up to date on their cleanings and hygiene exams. If you need to schedule a cleaning or fear that you might have cavities in Kansas City call Gordon Dental to schedule an appointment, 816.505.2222 or www.kcgordondental.com. We look forward to seeing you and your smile soon!