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Best and Worst Halloween Treats for Teeth
Admit it, Mom and Dad. You steal treats from your children's Halloween bags. It's OK. Fully 80 percent of parents do this. (Just don't tell the kids!) But since that means we're all eating candy this week, we should know which treats have the potential to do the most damage to teeth.

From candy corn to Twizzlers, find out our favorite Halloween treats and why we love them.

Two good basic rules to follow, according to Northeast Delta Dental:

  • Choose candy that doesn't stick to teeth, such as powdery candy or plain chocolate bars that dissolve quickly.

  • Allow children to eat their Halloween loot in small portions at limited times, such as after a meal as dessert or at regular snack times. Don't let them snack on the candy throughout the day.

While no sweets are good for our teeth, some are less harmful than others. Northeast Delta Dental has rated the best and worst treats for teeth on a scale of one to five, with one being the least harmful.

Best to worst Halloween treats for teeth:
1. Sugar-free candy and gum with xylitol
Sugar-free foods do not contain sugar that can feed on bacteria in the mouth and produce decay-causing acids. Gum and candy with xylitol may actually protect teeth by reducing the acids produced by bacteria and increasing saliva to rinse away excess sugars and acids.

2. Powdery candy, such as sugar straws
Sure, powdery candy is packed with pure sugar, but it dissolves quickly and does not stick to the teeth.

3. Chocolate, such as candy bars
Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth.

4. Hard candy, such as lollipops or mints
Hard candy is tough on teeth because it tends to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace for an extended period of time. Plus, biting hard candy can chip or break teeth.

5. Chewy candy, such as caramels or gummies
Chewy, sticky treats are particularly damaging because they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for saliva to break down. "When sugar remains on teeth for extended periods, bacteria feeds on it and produces cavity-causing acid," says Michel Couret, DDS, chief dental officer at Northeast Delta Dental.

Another way to protect teeth is to give kids something other than candy. Nearly 25 percent of parents hand-out non-candy items to trick-or-treaters, such as toys, money or fruit.

What do you think is the favorite holiday in the U.S.A.? See where Halloween is ranked on this list, and take our poll to vote for your favorite--from New Year's to Christmas.

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