Halloween is officially over, which means it’s time to decide what to do with all the leftover sweets.
If the obvious answer is eat it, some dentists recommend doing so all at once - as it’s actually better for your teeth.
Although spreading your Halloween candy consumption out over weeks may seem like the healthier approach, according to dentists, the tactic can increase your risk of developing a post-holiday cavity.
When you eat sweets, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars left on your teeth and form plaque. If this plaque is left on your teeth, the acid will eventually erode the enamel and lead to the formation of tiny holes, or cavities.
“Cavities are a matter of having something to feed the bacteria - the sugar from the candy - and also the duration of time it’s in contact with your teeth,” Anna Berik, a dentist, previously told Time.
To limit the time that sugar is in contact with your teeth, Berik recommends eating your candy all at once, which is “less cavity-causing than spreading that candy out over the next three months and having sugar in your mouth day after day after day”.
The tactic also means you can eat as many sweets as you like during the sitting, as long as you brush your teeth immediately after, because, according to Berik, “the bacteria can only make the acid so fast”.
“At some point, there’s a threshold where they can’t really work any harder,” she said, adding: “It really doesn’t matter if you have one Reese’s or three.”
However, if you are worried about your teeth health while picking through your Halloween stash, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises sticking to chocolate, especially darker varieties.
“Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy,” Dr Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty told the association’s blog Mouth Healthy. “Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”
As for what candies to avoid, she says sticky and gummy sweets are the worst for your teeth because the candy is “harder to remove and may stay longer on your teeth, which gives that cavity-causing bacteria more time to work”.
You may also want to skip hard sweets, which require longer periods of time in your mouth “so the sugar is getting in your saliva and washing over your teeth,” and sour candy, which “can be very acidic”.
“That acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities,” Dr Ferraz-Dougherty explained.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies