October is National Orthodontic Health Month, celebrated by orthodontists throughout the U.S. and Canada, but it is also more commonly known as the month of Halloween. Halloween and all its accompanying candy can be a scary time for teeth. As part of National Orthodontic Health Month Dr.Thompson wants to remind patients and the entire community that even though Halloween treats can play tricks on orthodontic treatment, there are a few quick tips to keep teeth safe from decay, and protect braces, clear aligners and other orthodontic “appliances” during the Halloween season.
Avoid sticky situations with your braces and aligners. Stay away from hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy candy and snacks. These include hard or chewy candies, caramel, licorice, taffy, bubblegum (even the sugarless kind) and jelly beans.
Careful with crunchiness. Patients want to steer away from hard-shelled peanut candies, nuts or nut-filled candies, taco chips and popcorn (especially unpopped kernels). And whether in orthodontic treatment or not, Dr. Thompson says no one should ever chew ice.
Not all Halloween candy is off-limits. Good alternatives include soft chocolates, peanut butter cups or other melt-in-your-mouth varieties. The American Association of Orthodontists even offers orthodontic-friendly recipes for Halloween on its website, mylifemysmile.org.
Brushing and flossing are more important than ever during the Halloween season, when teeth may receive more exposure to sweets that can cause cavities. Orthodontic patients should be especially conscientious about brushing and flossing after consuming sugary or starchy foods.
“It is possible to enjoy some traditional candies at Halloween without causing problems with orthodontics,” says Dr. Thompson. “Everyone really wants to have fun on this holiday, and we encourage patients to enjoy treats that are acceptable, rather than feel that they are missing out. It’s important to remember that when patients’ orthodontic treatment is complete, and they see their new smiles in the mirror, they will know all of their efforts now were worthwhile.”