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October 28, 2016

Halloween & Braces: What Parents Need to Know

For young kids – and all of us adults who are young at heart – Halloween is an opportunity to indulge guilt-free in our favourite treats without worrying about calories or sugar content. But if you’re the parent of a child with braces, you’ll need to keep a careful eye out on what treats are in your child’s trick-or-treat bag.Candy apples, caramels, blow pops, tootsie rolls, and other Halloween candy favourites can turn into a huge mess for kids with braces. All those sweet, sticky, and hard sour candies can get stuck between the teeth and braces, or worse, pop a bracket off all together! Unfortunately, this means that chewy candies, hard candies, and homemade treats like popcorn balls are off-limits.As any parent knows, trying to limit a kid’s Halloween candy indulgence can be pretty difficult. At Docbraces, many of our orthodontists are also parents, so we certainly have some first-hand experience when it comes to navigating this tricky problem. Our solution: focus on what kids can have rather than focusing on what they can’t eat.Here’s how you can help your child enjoy trick-or-treating and avoid any emergency trips to the orthodontist.

1. Create your own ghoulish treats.

Have a family Halloween tradition that involves popcorn balls or bobbing for apples? Unfortunately those traditions are a no-go for kids with braces. Instead of kids feeling left out, get them involved in a new holiday tradition. Turn brownies into “spooky ghosts”, whip up some Halloween brownie cupcakes, or bake your own apple cider donut holes or pumpkin muffins.

2. Stockpile braces-friendly candy.

While you can’t control what candy the neighbours give out this Halloween, you can stockpile your own reserve of braces-friendly candy. Offer your kids a generous exchange policy: for every piece of “non-braces” candy they surrender, you’ll give them two pieces of “braces-friendly” candy or homemade treats in return. Hersey’s chocolate bars and kisses, plain M&Ms, higher-end gourmet chocolate bars, peppermint patties and Junior Mints are all braces-friendly options. For peanut butter lovers, Reese’s cups and Reese’s pieces are soft enough that there’s no risk of popping a bracket.

3. Watch out for chewy candies.

Your orthodontist has probably already explained to your child why chewing gum with braces is a big no-go. If your child is struggling to understand why certain candies are also a problem, explain that chewy candies, like gum, can easily get lodged between their braces and teeth. Explain that a bracket coated in a tootsie roll or caramel candy isn’t just unpleasant: your child may need a trip to the orthodontist for an emergency cleaning.

4. Brush up on your brushing smarts.

This one is useful for parents and kids. Brushing or flossing after eating is a good habit to build whether or not you have braces. Sugars from the foods and candies you eat can build up along the surface of your teeth, increasing the risk for decay and cavities. But what if you’re out at a Halloween party or trick-or-treating and can’t brush your teeth? If you’re unable to brush, at least swish your mouth with water. Swishing with water will help clear particles from your teeth (and remove these particles from in between brackets, wires and braces) until you can brush. Once you get home, use floss picks to remove any smaller pieces of food stuck between the teeth.Not sure whether a certain candy or treat is “braces-friendly”? Did you child get a piece of candy stuck in his or her braces? Our orthodontist in Moncton, Halifax, Amherst, Summerside, Charlottetown or Dartmouth can help. Give us a call to learn more!

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