For people who typically hoard Halloween candy past Thanksgiving, here’s some surprising advice: Some dentists actually condone eating your Halloween candy at one time, rather than rationing it out over weeks.
That doesn’t mean eating lots of candy is good for you, of course—but it might be better for your teeth. After you eat sweets, bacteria feed on the sugars and starches left on your teeth and form plaque. Eventually, the acid in plaque begins to wear away at the enamel coating your teeth, forming tiny holes—also known as cavities—that grow larger and larger over time. “Cavities are a matter of having something to feed the bacteria—the sugar from the candy—and also the duration of time it’s in contact with your teeth,” says Anna Berik, a dentist in Boston.
For that reason, having one all-you-can-eat candy feast—then brushing your teeth right after—is actually “less cavity-causing than spreading that candy out over the next three months and having sugar in your mouth day after day after day,” Berik says. (You could also minimize damage by dutifully brushing after each daily piece, but Berik says that’s less realistic for most people.)
While portion control is certainly good for your overall health, Berik says it doesn’t really matter, at least from a cavity-forming perspective, how much you eat at a time. “The bacteria can only make the acid so fast,” she says. “At some point, there’s a threshold where they can’t really work any harder. It really doesn’t matter if you have one Reese’s or three.”