LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Ellen and Megan Anderson's Halloween candy usually lasts until the following year, because their mother Suzanne puts it out of reach in the cupboard to limit their daily sugar intake.
The Murray Avenue School students don't have a sweet tooth, Suzanne said, but they're still kids and they still like candy. Dr. Michael Barbieri doesn't expect parents to prohibit all candy, but recommends they avoid sticky ones, 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 Barbieri, 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. The 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 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.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.