The worst types of Halloween candy for your teeth

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Oh, Halloween – that time-honored holiday complete with enough candy to last a year. But the spookiest scare of Oct. 31 isn't ghosts or goblins – it's tooth decay.

Check out the most popular candy in your state (there are some surprises):

52 PHOTOS
Most popular Halloween candy in each state
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Most popular Halloween candy in each state

Alabama: Airheads

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Alaska: Snickers

Photo: Shutterstock

Source: Influenster

Arizona: Toblerone

Photo: Ben Gabbe via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Arkansas: Skittles

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

California: Lifesavers

Photo: Tim Boyle via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Colorado: Milky Way

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

Connecticut: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Delaware: 3 Musketeers

Photo: Myra Iqbal, AOL

Source: Influenster

Florida: Nestlé Crunch Bar

Photo: AP

Source: Influenster

Georgia: Pixy Stix

Photo: Jennifer Smith via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Hawaii: 100 Grand Bar

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Idaho: Butterfinger

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Source: Influenster

Illinois: Snickers

Photo: Shutterstock

Source: Influenster

Indiana: Reese's Pieces

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Iowa: Twix

Photo: ullstein bild via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Kansas: Twizzlers

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Kentucky: Whoppers

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Louisiana: Swedish Fish

Photo: FoodPhotography Eising via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Maine: Starburst

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Maryland: Almond Joy

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

MassachusettsStarburst

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Michigan: M&M's

Photo: elevenmoments via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Minnesota: 100 Grand Bar

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Mississippi: Hershey's Kisses

Photo: Steven Mark Needham via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Missouri: Hershey's Kisses

Photo: Steven Mark Needham via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Montana: Kit Kat Bar

Photo: Newscast via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Nebraska: Skittles

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

Nevada: Jolly Ranchers

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

New Hampshire: Tootsie Rolls

Photo: Victor Spinelli via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

New Jersey: Sour Patch Kids

Photo: Mat Hayward via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

New Mexico: 3 Musketeers

Photo: Myra Iqbal, AOL

Source: Influenster

New York: Sweet Tarts

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

North Carolina: Butterfinger

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Source: Influenster

North Dakota: Sour Patch Kids

Photo: Mat Hayward via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Ohio: Milky Way

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

Oklahoma: M&M's

Photo: elevenmoments via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Oregon: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Pennsylvania : Swedish Fish

Photo: FoodPhotography Eising via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Rhode Island: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

South Carolina: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

South Dakota: Laffy Taffy

Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Tennessee: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Texas: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Utah: Nerds

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Vermont: Almond Joy

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Virginia: Reese's Pieces

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Washington: AirHeads

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

West Virginia: Oreos

Photo: bhofack2 via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Wisconsin: Laffy Taffy

Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Wyoming: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

District of Columbia: Twix

Photo: ullstein bild via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

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To get the lowdown on just how scary those sugary treats are for kid and grownup teeth alike, U.S. News spoke with Dr. Ruchi Sahota, a Fremont, California-based dentist and spokeswoman for the American Dental Association. Here, she details the three biggest candy threats to pearly whites:

  • Sticky or gummy candy. That delightfully chewy quality? It's also the downfall of these sweets, which seem to cling to teeth longer than other varieties, Sahota says. And the longer candy sticks to teeth, the bigger the risk of cavities, she adds.
  • Hard candy. Typically, this type of candy lingers ... and lingers ... in your mouth, meaning potentially hazardous consequences. "Instead of the saliva having an opportunity to wash the teeth as much as possible, the hard candy makes the sugar stay in your mouth for longer and that exposes the teeth to the sugar for longer, not allowing saliva to do its job," she says.
  • Sour candy. The acidity of sour candy can weaken weaken tooth enamel, making your teeth more prone to decay, Sahota says.

To better explain cavities, Sahota likened teeth to apples. A tooth has a thin enamel shell like the peel of an apple; it has a core of dentin like an apple's core; and a middle nerve like the apple's fruity pulp. If you get to a rotten apple early, only the peel may show signs of decay. If you don't get to it quickly enough, the rot could have penetrated the core. As in, once a cavity gets to the core or nerve of a tooth, that's when you need a root canal.

Still, Sahota insists she's not a killjoy: You can have your candy – and eat it too.

For example, chocolate – dark chocolate in particular – is a safer alternative, "because it can more easily be washed away with saliva," she says.

Cavities aren't just a problem on Halloween, of course. Tooth decay is four times more prevalent than asthma in 14- to 17-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Halloween, and year-round, prevention is simple, and starts with good oral-care habits, like regular brushing and flossing.

Long story short: Reach for sweets that aren't as hard on teeth, and take care to brush those chompers after raiding your Halloween candy stash.

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10 Surprising Habits Killing Your Teeth

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

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