Halloween is an exciting time for kids, but if you have a child in braces, it can also be a big source of anxiety! While your child is perfecting their trick-or-treat route and putting the finishing touches on their costume idea, you might be wondering how you’ll ever be able to successfully walk that fine line between being careful and giving them some freedom. If you’re feeling nervous about navigating all those bowls and bags of candy given the food restrictions that come with braces treatment, David Ross Orthodontics has good news for you – with a little planning and patience, your child will be able to enjoy plenty of ghoulish goodies this Halloween without you having to worry about broken brackets, bent wires, or emergency appointments!
October is special for another reason – it’s National Orthodontic Health Month. That means it’s a perfect time to talk with patients about how to keep their braces safe and their teeth healthy throughout the Halloween season! With that in mind, we’ve created this special Halloween Survival Guide To Braces. You’ll learn what candy is safe and which to stay away from, plus creative suggestions for using up leftover candy, and some simple reminders of good oral hygiene. Keep reading to learn more!
Candy to keep away from your child’s braces
When it comes to Halloween, one of the scariest things for orthodontists like Dr. Ross 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 of the huge amount of pressure they put on braces, which can lead to broken brackets or bent wires. Every bracket or band that has to be replaced or repaired sets the orthodontic process back a step. To ensure your child’s treatment plan is progressing on schedule, be sure to steer clear of sweet treats like:
- Hard candy
- Jelly beans
- Candy corn
- Popcorn and caramel corn
- Chewy candy
- Candy and caramel apples
While this may seem like a lot to avoid, being in braces doesn’t have to mean your child watching wistfully as other children dig into their Halloween haul. There’s still plenty of spooktacular stuff out there that’s braces-friendly and orthodontist approved!
Candy that gets two thumbs up from Dr. Ross
Anything with soft chocolate is usually a safe bet for kids in braces. In fact, any type of chocolate candy bar will generally be okay, as long as it doesn’t contain any caramel or nuts. This means the following classics get a thumbs up from us!
- Reese’s peanut butter cups
- Kit Kats
- Plain M&M’s
- Reese’s Pieces
- 3 Musketeers
- Hershey Bars
- Hershey’s Kisses
Many parents aren’t aware that biting into bigger candy bars can potentially damage the braces on a child’s front teeth, so breaking large candy bars into smaller pieces is a smart idea. Fortunately, Halloween is full of fun-sized and mini-sized bars, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this one too much!
Creative uses for leftover candy
These are some 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!
Make cookies or brownies
Many different types of candy can be used as substitutes for chocolate chips in your favorite cookie recipes. There’s the more obvious choices like M&M’s and Reese’s Pieces, but consider chopping up chocolate bars or Reese’s cups to use in cookies, blondies, and brownies, too. If you have more willpower than us, you could consider these as early holiday cookies and stick them in the freezer for a month or two, then pull them out at Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, we won’t judge your family if you eat them all them right away. Just make sure everybody remembers to brush and floss afterwards!
Donating unwrapped candy is a simple way to brighten someone’s day, and it can really give your child a sense of pride to do something kind for others. Bringing a smile to someone else’s face may also help take the sting out of not being able to indulge in some of their favorite Halloween treats. Many 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
Sharing is caring! Everybody appreciate a little post-lunch treat in the breakroom, and having a jar of candy at the edge of your desk ups your cool factor with coworkers. 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 interest in this program. More information can be found here.
Send it to school
Many teachers use individually wrapped candy in the classroom as an occasional reward or learning tool, particularly in elementary schools. Send a big bag of unopened candy in with your child, and for bonus points, include a note letting their teacher know how much you appreciate them.
Reminder: basic braces care
In all the excitement of Halloween, it can be easy to skip brushing sessions, but you should actually be taking extra care with your child’s teeth during this time. Even braces-friendly candy has sugar, and eating a lot of it can be harmful to the teeth if it’s not removed promptly.
Practicing basic braces care will help to prevent cavities as your kids make their way through that giant bag of Halloween candy! That means brushing at least twice a day and flossing thoroughly before bed. This can be a good time to use an oral irrigator, too, as the flow of water will help wash away any stubborn sugary debris that could otherwise build up around the braces and on the teeth.
Happy Halloween from David Ross Orthodontics
We hope this guide has reassured you that undergoing orthodontic treatment doesn’t have to 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 is a team effort! Whatever your family’s plans for Halloween, we hope you have a safe, memorable holiday, full of happy, healthy smiles!