It's Halloween, which means dentists and other health professionals are preemptively cringing at the thought of the damage that tonight's candy hauls can do.
The Academy of General Dentistry (ACD) gave the Sacramento Bee the low-down on the worst Halloween candies:
– Gummy candy (e.g. gummy bears), because they get stuck in kids' teeth and cause serious tooth decay.
– Sour candy (e.g. Sour Patch), because its acidity breaks down tooth enamel.
– Sugary candy (e.g. candy corn) because sugar causes tooth decay.
The ACD's favorite candies, unfortunately, aren't nearly as exciting: sugar-free lollipops, sugar-free gum and dark chocolate.
But forget candy – another group of dentists, the American Dental Association (ADA), found that a lot of young trick-or-treaters prefer different treats. In a survey the group took as part of its "Stop Zombie Mouth" campaign, about nine in 10 kids said they'd still like Halloween if it were less about candy and "more about other types of fun." In fact, 93 percent said they'd rather get a free video game instead of candy. That may not be the fairest trade money-wise, and it can easily turn into an equally unhealthy habit – too much screen time isn't good for kids, either.
If candy's going to be part of your Halloween regardless, though, we just published a piece on the importance of candy control for reasons relating to sugar consumption – a major contributor to obesity. CBS News also has some tips on how to manage how much candy kids eat.
Also, if you're worried about Halloween asthma and allergy triggers, those worries are valid – but HealthDay's got some tips on how to avoid them:
– Old costumes that have been stored for a long time can be full of dust mites and other allergens, so proceed with caution.
– Check costume labels to see if they contain any chemicals that could trigger an adverse reaction.
– Don't eat any homemade treats given out on Halloween unless you can guarantee they're safe.
– Fog, both real and machine-generated, can trigger asthma symptoms.
– Higher-quality makeup means a smaller chance of an allergic reaction.
– Dusty, moldy pumpkins can be bad for allergies.
For those who are of age and are planning on drinking alcohol – a lot of it – check out what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say about binge drinking. And if you're going to drink responsibly, that means not driving. Call a cab or arrange a ride.
Finally, speaking of alcohol, we asked southside LAPD what the Halloween crime outlook is for South L.A. They'll have extra units out, they told us, but aren't expecting anything out of the ordinary. They gave us some safety tips, which mostly have to do with being aware of your surroundings and not running out into the street.
For more of the same, the CDC has an acrostic poem of safety tips that spells out – what else? – "SAFE HALLOWEEN."
Tweet us a photo of what you're going as this Halloween, and we'll repost the best ones!
Photo by Denis Collette via Flickr Creative Commons.