Halloween is fun for kids but frightening to parents who worry about cavities or pay for orthodontics.

In honor of National Orthodontic Health Month (October), I want to provide a few tips.

■Avoid sticky, chewy, hard candy that can easily break, dislodge or stick to dental work, as well as break teeth. We’d recommend staying away from candy such as caramel, taffy, bubble gum (sugarless or not), jelly beans, etc. When you do eat candy you should try to stick to soft chocolates or chocolates that melt in your mouth.

■ Wait about 30 minutes to brush as the bacteria in your mouth has already began the process of producing acid, which softens the enamel. So you want to wait until the pH in your mouth returns to normal, then brush and floss.

■ Don’t fall asleep with hard candy in your mouth, as you can develop mouth sores.

■ Limit snacking. Bacteria created by the acid in sugary and starchy foods slowly destroys tooth enamel. Don’t eat all your Halloween candy in one sitting. This gives your mouth time to recover from the increased acidity.

More than four million people in the U.S. are undergoing some type of orthodontic treatment, including 80 percent of teenagers. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic evaluation occur by the time a child is seven years old. Regular visits with your dentist are also recommended.

Dr. Sindy Goodman, national orthodontic director,

Great Expressions Dental Centers

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