You might not be scared this Halloween, but your teeth should be.
Emergency visits to the dentist skyrocket right after the spooky holiday, because of so many teeth get cracked trying to get through all that candy.
For kids and parents, it's been getting worse. For dentists, it's been a growth industry. Last year, there was nearly an 80 percent jump in emergency dentist visits on Halloween relative to an average October day. That number is higher than it's been in any of the most recent years.
The data come from Sikka Software — whose cloud-based app systems are installed in more than 13,000 dentist offices across the country, allowing them to aggregate national data on the state of our dental health.
Everyone knows Halloween treats can be damaging, but cavities from the sugar are a long-term problem. Around the actual holiday, you're more likely to rush to the dentist after chipping your tooth on a hard candy — with kids especially at-risk.
Certain types of cracked teeth are more of an emergency than others, dentists said, most notably chipping a highly visible front tooth.
"Parents should remember to carefully inspect treats before allowing their children to eat them," said Dr. William B. Grand, a dentist in Mandeville, Louisiana. "Enjoy the delicious Halloween treats, but don't forget to brush and floss afterwards."
Sikka's software is also installed in 2,000 veterinary offices — and guess what, Halloween is terrible for pets, too. You can imagine pets in every home going nuts for all the candy in front of their eyes. But it's not just that.
"Many pets escape from the house through an open front door," said Dr. Kerri Marshall, a veterinarian in Milpitas, California.
There are a lot of other risks as well: Candy wrappers can cause internal blockages, pet costumes can choke them, and overly sugared kids sometimes accidentally hurt or step on pets.
Sikka estimated that more than $800 million could be spent on emergency dental visits because of Halloween, and another $300 million for vet bills this year.
The lesson here is: The scariest part of Halloween might be what happens to the wallets of people making a trip to the dentist or vet after all the costumes have been put away.