Halloween is over, but its sugary ghost will be haunting us for weeks to come. Your taste buds may appreciate all the left over candy, but the rest of your tongue will not be as amused if you neglect to clean it.

Bacteria forms on the tongue and brushing your teeth alone will not get rid of it. This bacteria has been shown to be one of the most common causes of bad breath and other oral health problems. You can use your toothbrush, but a tongue scraper is more efficient. So when you brush your teeth, make sure to clean your tongue as well. It will keep your mouth feeling -and smelling- fresh.

Here are some other ways to keep your mouth healthy during Halloween season. If you want a sugary treat, plan to eat it shortly after a meal. The increased saliva production during the meal will help neutralize acids produced by mouth bacteria and rinse away food particles. This is also a good way to decrease the urge to overindulge in candy. You may also want to avoid candy that stays in your mouth for a long time, like hard candy. Keeping sugary candy in your mouth for long periods increases the risk of tooth decay. Candies that stick to your teeth, like gummy bears and taffy, also increase the risk of tooth decay, so beware of these sticky sweets.

Here are some ideas for what you can do with all the extra candy:

  • Donate it to a local charity
  • Take it to work and share it with your coworkers
  • Offer to use it for goody bags at an upcoming birthday
  • Mix it with nuts and dried fruit to create your own trail mix

Read additional healthy Halloween tips from the American Dental Association.

Sources: Colgate Oral Care Center, Journal of Periodontology, American Dental Association, Kids Health. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.