Halloween will be here before we know it! As exciting as it is to put the finishing touches on costumes and plan out the perfect trick-or-treat route, you may also be feeling a little nervous about navigating the holiday if you have a child in braces. This time of year can be a source of anxiety for parents who aren’t sure how to find that perfect balance between the food restrictions that come with braces and all the sweet treats of the season. The good news is, kids in braces can enjoy plenty of ghoulish goodies without worrying about broken brackets, bent wires, and emergency appointments While there are definitely candies and other Halloween staples they should avoid, undergoing orthodontic treatment doesn’t have to mean staring wistfully from the sidelines as other children dig into their Halloween hauls!
Every October, we celebrate National Orthodontic Health Month. This is a perfect excuse for us to remind our braces patients what candy they can safely indulge in and which they should steer clear of in order to keep their braces safe and their smiles healthy during Halloween. With that in mind, our Bennett Orthodontics team has prepared this simple guide for surviving Halloween with braces. Keep reading below for more information on this, as well as a few helpful ways to use up any leftover candy!
Candy to keep away from braces
For orthodontists like Dr. Bennett, one of the scariest things about Halloween is all the chewy candy people like to hand out. These tend to stick to brackets, bands, and wires, and can even pull parts off. Not only that, but if your child’s teeth are tender from having braces put on or adjusted, these types of treats can also be painful to chew, leading to a sore or aching mouth. Hard, crunchy candies aren’t that much better. These put a huge amount of pressure on braces, which can lead to broken brackets and bent wires. It’s worth noting that every bracket or band that has to be replaced or repaired sets the orthodontic process back a step. To keep your child’s treatment plan progressing on schedule, avoid the following:
- Hard candy
- Jelly beans
- Candy corn
- Popcorn and caramel corn
- Chewy candy
- Candy and caramel apples
We know that’s a pretty long list, but don’t worry. There’s still plenty of spooktacular stuff out there for your child to enjoy!
Candy that gets a thumbs up
When it comes to braces-friendly treats, anything with soft chocolate is usually a good choice. This includes several classic candies, including:
- Reese’s peanut butter cups
- Kit Kats
- Plain M&M’s
- Reese's Pieces
- 3 Musketeers
- Hershey Bars
- Hershey’s Kisses
Any type of chocolate candy bar will generally be a safe bet, as long as it doesn’t contain any caramel or nuts. Keep in mind that biting into bigger candy bars can potentially damage the braces on your child’s front teeth, so breaking large candy bars into smaller pieces is a better idea. Fortunately, Halloween is full of fun-sized and mini-sized bars, so you won’t have to worry too much about keeping braces safe!
Creative ways to get rid of leftover candy
It seems like every Easter, we find some Halloween candy still lurking around on a shelf or in a drawer. Avoid that extra little bit of spring cleaning by clearing out the candy your child can’t eat or doesn’t want right after Halloween using the following ideas.
Many types of candy can be substituted for chocolate chips in your favorite cookies, from the obvious choices like M&M’s and Reese’s Pieces to chopped up chocolate bars. Blondies and brownies work as a base, too. If you have the willpower, you could consider these early holiday cookies, and stick them in the freezer for a month or two. We won’t blame you for gobbling them up right away, though, as long as everybody remembers to brush and floss afterwards!
Donating unwrapped candy is an easy way to brighten someone’s day, and it can give your child a sense of pride while helping to take the sting out of not being able to indulge in some of their favorite Halloween treats. Many charitable organizations accept candy donations, including:
Operation Gratitude sends care packages to U.S. troops that are stationed overseas and first responders here at home. Your child can even include drawings or letters for soldiers!
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 provides a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill. Most locations will accept donations of unopened candy for their resident families after Halloween. You can find your local chapter here, although you may want to call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off candy before heading that way.
Put it in a pinata
Kids love whacking pinatas, and you don’t have to wait until it’s someone’s birthday to indulge them! Start a new tradition of a Thanksgiving or Christmas pinata, fill it with all your leftover candy, and invite friends over to share in the fun. If you’re particularly crafty, you can even attempt to make your own pinata as a family project. This is a good place to start.
Bring it to work
Even if they have their own surplus at home, your coworkers will appreciate a little post-lunch treat in the breakroom. You could also register your office as a Halloween candy buyback location. While it’s traditionally dental and orthodontic offices that participate, many local businesses have begun signing up as well. 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. Send a bag of unopened candy in with your child, and be sure to include a note for their teacher letting them know you appreciate all they do!
Happy Halloween from Bennett Orthodontics
As you can see, having a child in braces doesn’t have to take the fun out of your family’s Halloween celebrations! If you’re still unsure, our team is always happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have about your child’s treatment. Whatever your plans for Halloween include, we hope it’s safe, happy, and full of healthy smiles!