Tricks, treats, and toothbrushes: Keeping kids' teeth healthy this Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and while it promises to be a fun and exciting time for kids, all of those sugary, sticky sweets can pose serious challenges to their dental health. Dental problems such as caries (cavities in the baby teeth) are a leading cause of chronic disease for young children.

To help keep kids’ teeth healthy this Halloween, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) wants kids to beware of “Mouth Monsters” by avoiding sticky, sugary candies like bubblegum and caramels that can get stuck in the grooves of the teeth and cause decay.

Experts recommend starting oral care by age 1 or when the first teeth emerge to check for tooth decay and other potential problems, but many young children aren’t seeing the dentist until much later.

Most 1-2-year-old kids haven’t seen the dentist yet, according to reports from parents in the National Poll on Children’s Health. Less than half of parents said health care providers talked with them about taking their child to a dentist, but 1 in 10 parents said a health care provider noted a problem with their child’s teeth at age 1-2. Read the full report: Many young children off to a poor start with dental health

Percentage of children who have been to the dentist

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If kids have any leftover or unwanted candy this Halloween, the AAPD suggests selling it to dentists who participate in the national Halloween Candy Buy Back Program for around $1 per pound of candy. The candy is then sent in care packages to US soldiers serving overseas. To find a participating dentist in your area, visit