When you hear about Halloween teeth, you most likely picture cavities caused by eating too much trick-or-treat candy. While you do want to go easy on the Halloween candy to protect your teeth, it also helps to pay close attention to what you’re putting in your mouth and on your teeth as part of your Halloween costume. Wearing a fake set of fangs or dressing up your teeth with a grill for a few hours likely won’t cause much harm, but it’s still worth knowing which precautions to take to protect your teeth this Halloween.

Keep It Clean

Whether you pop in a set of plastic vampire fangs or go all out and have a cosmetic dentist make you a sparkly grill to wear on your front teeth, it’s important that you keep it and your natural teeth clean to reduce your risk of developing cavities and other problems in your mouth. Floss and brush your teeth before you put on costume teeth. Brushing before you insert your Halloween teeth means that bacteria and debris won’t have places to hide in your mouth and won’t linger on your teeth and gums for hours.

Limit Your Costume Time

Grills and costume teeth aren’t designed to stay in your mouth all day. In fact, the American Dental Association strongly recommends limiting the amount of time you keep a grill (and other costume teeth) in your mouth. To keep food bits from getting caught in the teeth or grill, it’s a good idea to remove it before you eat or drink.

In 2013, New York Magazine talked to several dentists about the risks of grills, which were trending among celebrities at the time. Although plenty of dentists are happy to fit a grill for a patient and are happy to create one made of gold, sparkling gems and other metals, they do warn against wearing them while sleeping and recommend not wearing them for more than four hours at a time. The dentists the magazine spoke with claim to have seen erosion, decay and other damage from prolonged grill wear.

Watch Out If You Have Veneers

You may want to think twice about using costume teeth and adhesives if you have veneers or another type of tooth replacement in your mouth. The packaging for costume teeth often warns against placing the putty or adhesive on veneers, as any type of abrasive product can cause wear or damage to the porcelain surface of the veneer. If you have veneers, you might want to discuss safe costume teeth options with your dentist or skip the accessory altogether.

Be Careful About What You Put in Your Mouth

When planning your costume or costumes for your kids this Halloween, be cautious about what you put in your mouth. Since you’ll only be in the costume for a few hours, it might feel safe to put things in your mouth or on your teeth that don’t belong there. For example, it might seem OK to use a marker or paint to black out or color in teeth. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t color in your teeth or stick items such as a pipe in your mouth. You don’t want to risk choking or biting down on the pipe, and the paint or markers could contain chemicals that are harmful if ingested.

If you’re dressing as Sherlock Holmes, stick to carrying your pipe in your hand. Talk to your dentist and ask if he or she can recommend products, such as blackout putty or special tooth paint, that are safe to use in your mouth, rather than regular household items.

Costumes are just as big a part of Halloween as jack-o’-lanterns and trick-or-treating. Just remember to choose your costume carefully.