MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Rocco Garcia's favorite candy is Reese's Pieces, which Dr. Michael Barbieri checks off as an acceptable Halloween treat, as long as his parents limit the amount he eats each day.
However, the Mamaroneck dentist recommends parents avoid sticky candies, which can wreak havoc on trick or treaters' teeth. "You can't stop the kids from having any sweets, but you can limit what they eat," said Barieri, who doesn't let his eight-year-old son eat sticky candies.
"Most of the decay by age 12 is on the bitting surfaces of the back teeth. So if you can eliminate those you're eliminating approximately 80 to 90 percent of cavities."
Convincing your children to eat their Halloween candy in moderation can be difficult, but Barbieri's Rye colleague Dr. Debra Troy is able to give them an incentive that pays off. "She actually refunds money for kids that want to turn in their candy," said Barbieri, who added Troy began this program last Halloween.
"Instead of throwing it away and wasting it, you can give it away and the doctors have it shipped to a third world county."
Kids with candy to spare will also be able to donate it at any of Mamaroneck and Larchmont's four elementary schools from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4 to be delivered to the troops in Iraq, a program begun last Halloween by Hilde Friderichs, mother of two at Mamaroneck Avenue School and PTA member.
Last year's Halloween Candy Exchange Program, which trades candy for tooth brushes, collected over 450 pounds 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.
The American Dental Association also suggests parents 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.
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.
Drink more water fluoridated if possible. Fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. 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.
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