Halloween is right around the corner, and while your child is busy planning out the perfect trick-or-treat route and putting the finishing touches on their costume idea, you may be feeling anxious about helping them navigating all those bowls and bags of candy if they’re currently in braces. You want to help keep your child’s braces safe, but you don’t want them to miss out on all the fun Halloween has to offer, either! If you’ve been nervous about striking that balance, we have some good news for you. With a little planning, your child will be able to enjoy plenty of ghoulish goodies this Halloween, and you won’t have to worry about broken brackets, bent wires, or emergency appointments!
Here at Dudley Smiles, October is special for another reason, too – it’s National Orthodontic Health Month. That means it’s a perfect time to talk with our braces patients about how to keep their appliance safe and their smile healthy throughout the Halloween season. With that in mind, we’ve created this special guide to help your child survive Halloween with braces. Below, we’ll talk a little bit more about what candy is safe and which you should steer clear of, plus creative ways to get rid of leftover candy, and some simple reminders on the basics of braces care. Keep reading for more information!
Candy to stay away from
When it comes to Halloween, one of the scariest things for orthodontists like Dr. Dudley is all the chewy candy people love to hand out to trick-or-treaters! These are bad about sticking to brackets, bands, and wires, and sometimes even pull parts off. Hard, crunchy candies aren’t much better because they place a significant amount of pressure on the braces, which may lead to broken brackets or bent wires. It’s important to keep in mind that every time we have to repair or replace a bracket or band, it sets the orthodontic process back a step. To ensure your child’s treatment plan continues to progress on schedule, be sure to keep sweet treats like these away from their braces.
- Hard candy
- Jelly beans
- Candy corn
- Popcorn and caramel corn
- Chewy candy
- Candy and caramel apples
We know that this may seem like a lot to avoid, but being in braces doesn’t have to mean sitting on the sidelines as other children dig into their Halloween haul. There’s still plenty of fangtastic foods out there that are braces-friendly and orthodontist approved!
Candy your child can dig into
Soft chocolate is a safe bet for kids in braces, and in fact, any type of chocolate candy bar will generally be okay, as long as it doesn’t contain any caramel or nuts. That means lots of classic candy gets the orthodontic seal of approval, including:
- Reese’s peanut butter cups
- Kit Kats
- Plain M&M’s
- Reese’s Pieces
- 3 Musketeers
- Hershey Bars
- Hershey’s Kisses
Biting into bigger candy bars can potentially damage the braces on a child’s front teeth, so take advantage of all the fun- and mini-sized bars that are popular this time of year.
Creative uses for leftover candy
Here are a few of our favorite ideas for clearing out the candy your child can’t eat, or doesn’t want, right after they’ve picked out everything they want to keep. This helps remove clutter from your kitchen, and can keep it free from the temptation to indulge, too!
Make cookies or brownies
Experiment with using different types of candy as a sub for chocolate chips in your favorite cookie recipes. M&M’s and Reese’s Pieces are great options, and for a little extra texture, you can chop up chocolate bars or Reese’s cups to use in blondies and brownies, too. Do you possess a decent amount of willpower? If so, you could consider these as early holiday cookies, stick them in the freezer for a month or two, then pull them out at Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, we won’t judge you if your family eats them all them right away. Just be sure everybody remembers to brush and floss afterwards!
Donating unwrapped candy is a really easy way to brighten someone’s day, and it can give your child a sense of pride to do something kind for others. It may also help take the sting out of not being able to indulge in some of their favorite Halloween treats. A number of charitable organizations accept unwrapped candy donations, including:
Operation Gratitude sends care packages to U.S. troops that are stationed overseas and first responders here at home. To make the experience even more meaningful, you could have your child include drawings or letters for the soldiers they’re sending treats to.
Soldiers’ Angels do a “Treats for Troops” event annually. You can click here to find a donation drop-off point, or find information to start a drive of your own.
The Ronald McDonald House organization is well known for providing a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill. Most of their locations will accept donations of unopened candy for families in residence after Halloween. Local chapters can be found here, but we recommend you call ahead first to find out the rules for dropping off candy.
Bring it to work
Share the wealth! Your coworkers will appreciate a little post-lunch treat in the breakroom, or a jar of candy at the edge of your desk. If several of you are watching your waistlines, you could also consider registering your office as a Halloween candy buyback location. Although it’s traditionally been dental and orthodontic offices that participate, many local businesses have begun to show an interest in this program, and you can find out more about it here.
Send it to school
Lots of teachers use individually wrapped candy in their classroom as an occasional reward or a handy learning tool, particularly in elementary schools. Send in a big bag of unopened candy with your child. As an added bonus for their teacher, include a note letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Be mindful of oral hygiene
In all the excitement of Halloween, it can be easy to let dental hygiene fall by the wayside. But your child should actually be taking extra care with their teeth and braces during this time! Even candy that is braces-friendly has sugar, and eating a lot of it can be harmful to the teeth if it’s not removed promptly.
Encouraging your child to practice basic braces care as they make their way through a giant pile of Halloween candy will help to keep cavities at bay! That means brushing at least twice a day and flossing thoroughly every night before bed. This is also a great time to use an oral irrigator, as the water flow will help wash away any stubborn debris that could otherwise build up around the braces and on the teeth.
Happy Halloween from Dudley Smiles
Hopefully, this guide has reassured you that being in braces won’t put a damper on your child’s Halloween celebrations! If you’re still feeling unsure about tackling treat-or-treating with a child in braces, we’re always happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have. Successful treatment with excellent results is a team effort! Whatever plans you have for Halloween this year, we hope your family has a safe, fun-filled holiday full of happy, healthy smiles!