Did you know that October is National Orthodontic Health Month? Here at Amazing Smiles Orthodontics, this means taking a little extra time to educate people about what orthodontics is, how beneficial orthodontic treatment can be, and how to achieve a healthy, aligned smile. It also happens to be the month we celebrate copious amounts of free candy…we mean, Halloween!
If you have a child in braces, it’s natural to feel a little anxious about helping them navigate through bowls and bags full of candy. Nothing can knock the fun out of trick-or-treating or fall festivals like a broken bracket or bent wire, so it’s important to pay attention to the kind of sweets they indulge in.
We want your family to be able to focus on all the good things Halloween has to offer without waiting around for an emergency orthodontic appointment, so we’ve put together our Top 4 Tips For Surviving Halloween With Braces to help you make the most of the holiday!
Inspect candy bags carefully
Remind your child that he or she shouldn’t eat anything out of their bag until you have a chance to go through it. As you inspect their haul, pull out any hard candy, as well as anything that has nuts or caramel, since these can stick to the wires or in the brackets. Chewy treats like gum and Tootsie Rolls also need to go.
Does your child have plans to attend any Halloween parties? If so, make sure they remember to avoid restricted foods outside the home, too. For example, candy apples and caramel corn are party favorites, but they can wreak havoc on braces.
You can’t control what others are giving out on Halloween night, or what snacks will be served at parties, but you can keep a small amount of braces-friendly candy on hand in your own home. This gives your child a few treats they can enjoy anytime without worry. Plain chocolates and soft cookies are good choices.
Make your own tasty treats
Even if you plan to do the traditional trick-or-treating, or have parties to attend, consider making your own braces-friendly treats to make up for any candy that can’t be eaten. We’ll list a couple of ghoulishly good recipes we love below. Bonus: these are not only delicious, but healthy, too!
(adapted from www.familyfreshmeals.com)
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
In a clear glass, layer pineapple, oranges, and Cool Whip. Garnish with a few pieces of candy corn. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.
¾ cup vanilla yogurt (avoid using Greek yogurt)
Mini chocolate chips
6 wooden popsicle sticks
- Line a 9-inch baking pan with parchment or waxed paper.
- Peel the bananas and cut them in half crosswise at a slight angle. Insert a popsicle stick into the cut end of each banana and push it about halfway up.
- Put the yogurt into a small bowl. Hold onto the pops by the popsicle sticks and roll each banana in the yogurt to coat the exterior (tilting the bowl so the yogurt pools on the side makes this easier). Let excess yogurt drip back into the bowl (you can run your finger along the back of the bananas to remove the excess). Lay the pops in the baking pan. (Expect to have some leftover yogurt to snack on while you wait for these to firm up!)
- Push the pointy top of 2 chocolate chips into each banana to make the eyes of the ghosts.
- Put into the freezer to firm up, at least 3 hours.
- Remove pops from the freezer and use a knife to trim away any yogurt that pooled and froze along the sides of the banana. Serve straight from the freezer.
Note: Once pops are frozen, store them in a resealable bag or covered container in the freezer.
Donate any unopened candy
It can be frustrating for kids to have to give up so much of their Halloween haul, but you can easily turn it into a positive by donating any unopened candy. There are many charitable organizations to choose from, including:
Operation Gratitude sends care packages to U.S. troops stationed in overseas and first responders here at home. Their mission is putting smile on soldiers’ faces, and kids are encouraged to include letters and pictures with their donation.
Similar to Operation Gratitude but on a smaller scale, Soldiers’ Angels do a “Treats for Troops” event annually. Click here to find a donation drop-off point. You can even register to start a drive of your own!
The Ronald McDonald House is well-known for providing a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill, and most locations will accept donations of unopened candy for their resident families after Halloween. You can find your local chapter here, but you may want to call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off candy.
If you want to keep things closer to home, check with your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food pantry, or nursing home. Many are happy to take donations of unopened candy for residents and guests!
Keep a close eye on dental hygiene
Chances are good you already monitor your child’s brushing and flossing habits, but this is especially important in the week or two after Halloween. Even if you keep them away from restricted treats, there’s still plenty of sugar in the leftover sweet stuff to lead to extra plaque and even cavities. Children should be brushing at least twice a day, and preferably after any sugary snack. And don’t forget nightly flossing!
Happy Halloween from Amazing Smiles Orthodontics
When it comes to getting through Halloween with braces on, try to keep the emphasis on all the fun treats that are still available to your child, instead of focusing on what they can’t have. Remember that if you have any questions or concerns, including braces-related worries about the holidays, our team is always just a call away. Whatever your family’s plans for Halloween this month, we wish you a spooktacularly safe and happy holiday!