When it comes to Halloween, nothing beats a pillow case full of treats. Sure, dressing up is fun. And spooky jack o’lanterns and ghosts peppering the front porch make for great atmosphere. But if we’re being honest, when you’re a kid it’s all about the candy. Unfortunately, some candy culprits are worse than others. When it comes to Halloween goodies, there are definitely some that should be avoided. This year, when your child dumps their pile out on the living room floor to take stock, you may want to suggest trading some of these treats out:

Sour Candies

Sour treats, like Sour Patch Kids, are packed with a double whammy of decay-promoting sugar and high acidity—a one-two punch that creates a toxic environment in the mouth and wears down tooth enamel, leaving those precious pearly whites vulnerable to wear.

Hard Candies

Hard candies are definitely best avoided—they can cause cracks and breaks if chewed up or coat the teeth in a sticky layer of sugar, giving decay the chance to set in if slowly enjoyed. The longer a piece of candy sits in your mouth, the better chance cavities have to form.

Chewy, Gummy Treats

Chewy treats like Starbursts have a nasty habit of sticking around (literally) long enough to do some serious damage. By their nature, they can be difficult to remove even with proper brushing and flossing, allowing sugar to outstay its welcome on the surface of the teeth and causing cavity-causing decay to form.

Caramel and Other Sticky Candy

Caramel and candies like Tootsie Rolls and Sugar Daddies are downright terrible for teeth. They’re packed with sugar, sticky enough to lodge into every nook and cranny of the mouth, and are incredibly difficult to dislodge once they’ve nestled in. If your child already has fillings, they can pull them clean out. Of all the “wicked” treats on our list, these are the most important ones to avoid.

Juice Boxes

Sometime, it isn’t the candy that’s the culprit—beverages can be just as bad. If you’re hitting a Halloween party, encourage your child to choose water over juice boxes. The high sugar content and sticky texture of juice can make it downright scary for your teeth! What’s more, many juices have high acid content as well, which contributes to excessive wear of tooth enamel.

Halloween treats aren’t all bad, though. Choosing treats that dissolve quickly, like Smarties, and treats with dark chocolate can be less jarring on your teeth. Even if your child indulges in the culprits listed above for one evening, it won’t cause lasting damage as long as proper brushing and flossing happen after the sugar-fest. The problem is when an enormous stash of candy is slowly devoured over weeks and weeks. While one night of candy won’t cause lasting problems, prolonged indulgence certainly can. One solution is to let your child go all-out on Halloween night (followed by brushing and flossing of course) and then donating the rest to a local candy collection or Switch Witch program. Many of these programs will even send leftover candy to troops overseas.

To learn more about proper oral care, visit https://kyedentistry.com/. Dr. Keith A. Kye is passionate about helping his patients in and around Huntersville, NC to maintain healthy, beautiful smiles.