Braces-Safe Halloween Treats

Smart snacking tips for kids with braces

"What can I have that's fun to eat for Halloween?"

Orthodontists say it's the perennial question from kids wearing braces (and from a few adult orthodontic patients, too). Those who wear braces should avoid the following foods, whether consumed on their own or as recipe ingredients.

  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Tortilla chips
  • Hard candy
  • Jelly beans
  • Licorice
  • Taffy
  • Caramel and other chewy candies

However, especially because October is National Orthodontic Health Month, orthodontists want to help their patients enjoy the season.

"We recognize that kids will be kids, and they are going to eat sweets," says Dr. Terry R. Pracht, former president of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). "We certainly want them to consume treats that will not damage their braces. Some sweet treats may be permissible occasionally, but only if patients brush and floss right after eating."

"A little awareness and creativity in the kitchen can produce big smiles from trick-or-treaters with braces," he says. "If you routinely put walnuts in brownies, but someone in braces will attend your Halloween party, keep in mind that the orthodontic patient will be able to eat the brownies only if they are free of nuts or other hard foods potentially harmful to braces," says Dr. Pracht.

Bobbing for apples also is not recommended for anyone wearing braces. However, orthodontic patients can enjoy thinly sliced apples, dipped in yogurt dip or creamy chocolate sauce.

Be sure to remind your favorite orthodontic patient (and those without braces as well) to brush after eating sugary treats or starchy snacks, and to floss daily.

Note: Orthodontic patients should avoid hard, sticky, and chewy foods because they may cause damage to braces and lengthen treatment time. Patients should break cookies into pieces, rather than biting into them. Orthodontic patients must follow their orthodontist's directions about toothbrushing and flossing, particularly when indulging in sweet or starchy foods.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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