October is National Orthodontic Health Month, and members of the Texas Association of Orthodontists (TAO) invite children across the state to trade in their Halloween candy for prizes or cash. Simply bring in candy gathered around Halloween to a participating orthodontic office and for every pound of candy, patients receive prizes or cash in exchange.
“We especially want to remind children with braces to be extra cautious about the treats they eat because some varieties can get stuck in between your brackets and damage the devices,” says Dr. Matthew Ng of Houston, member of the TAO Board.
TAO offers five timely tips to protect braces, aligners and other orthodontic appliances while protecting teeth from decay this time of year:
- Avoid sticky situations with your braces and aligners. Stay away from hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy candy and snacks. These include caramel, gummies, licorice, taffy, bubblegum (even the sugarless kind) and jelly beans.
- Say “boo” to hard treats – including hard-shelled peanut candies, nuts or nut-filled candies, taco chips and popcorn (especially unpopped kernels). And whether in orthodontic treatment or not, no one should ever chew ice.
- Brush up! Sweets can cause cavities, which means brushing and flossing are more important than ever during the Halloween season. Orthodontic patients should be especially vigilant about brushing and flossing after consuming sugary or starchy foods.
- Spooktacular news: Not all Halloween candy is off-limits. Good alternatives include soft chocolates, peanut butter cups or other melt-in-your-mouth varieties, cookies, powdery candy such as Sweet Tarts or Pixie Stix, candy-coated chocolates like M&Ms or nougat filled candies like Three Musketeers. The American Association of Orthodontists even offers orthodontic-friendly recipes for Halloween on its website at mylifemysmile.org/recipes.
- Make a commitment to oral health. Deciding to avoid hard and chewy sweets before the Halloween season increases your rate of success – and reduces the likelihood that you’ll break braces.
Sticky candy, such as caramels, fruit chews, and gum should be avoided when wearing braces. Children can trade with their friends and siblings to get only safe candies or, if parents would like to avoid costs and issues associated with candy and orthodontic treatment, they can visit or call their local Orthodontist to find out if they are participating in this year’s buyback. When in doubt, children should ask their parents if a specific candy is safe. Halloween is a fun holiday for children, and having braces or aligners does not have to take away any of the excitement from tasty treats.