Facing Halloween With Braces
The haunting hours of Halloween can mean big trouble for trick-or-treaters who wear braces. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) reminds patients to follow special guidelines for keeping braces intact and keeping themselves safe.
What to Avoid and What to Look For
"If it's sticky, chewy, hard or crunchy, it's a food that anyone wearing braces or retainers should avoid," says Dr. James J. Caveney, president of the AAO.
October is National Orthodontic Health Month, and orthodontists urge patients to steer clear of the following treats, or treats with these ingredients, as they could lengthen their treatment time:
- Popcorn (including unpopped kernels)
- Hard pretzels
- Taco chips
"Eating food that could harm your braces may affect treatment just as if you weren't tending to oral hygiene or wearing your rubber bands," Dr. Caveney says.
Bobbing for apples is also not recommended for braces. However, orthodontic patients can enjoy thinly sliced apples, dipped in yogurt dip or creamy chocolate sauce.
Of course, Halloween does not have to be completely treatless. Plain chocolate candy is OK, provided you remember to brush and floss afterwards. Braces-safe Halloween recipes also can help orthodontic patients enjoy the holiday.
"We want patients to have fun while in orthodontic treatment," Dr. Caveney says. "Cooperation is always key, and exercising caution at Halloween could keep patients on track to great results!"
What to Do If Food Damages Braces
So what if a patient chooses to chew on the wrong treat and damages his braces? Contact your orthodontist so that arrangements can be made to correct the problem.
"Usually small problems can be solved over the phone," Dr. Caveney says. "Loose or protruding brackets or wires can be held in place for the patient's comfort with orthodontic wax until they can come into the office."
Halloween Safety Tips
In addition to orthodontic safety, AAO members advise parents and children to follow trick-or-treating safety guidelines:
- Young children should always be accompanied by an adult.
- Carry a flashlight.
- Wear a light-colored or reflective costume.
- Choose face paint instead of masks for young ghosts and goblins.
- Have an adult inspect all treats before the children dig in.