October is National Orthodontic Health Month, and it’s also the month we celebrate copious amount of free candy thanks to Halloween! Here at Rhoads Orthodontic Specialist, we view this as the perfect opportunity to educate people about what orthodontics is, how beneficial orthodontic treatment can be, and how to achieve a healthy, aligned smile. It’s also a great time to remind our braces patients about how important it is to take care of their appliance everyday, including holidays like Halloween.
If you have a child in braces, it’s natural to feel a little nervous about helping them navigate their way through bowls and bags full of candy this month. Nothing can knock the fun out of trick-or-treating and fall festivals like a broken bracket or bent wire, so it’s important to pay attention to the kind of sweets they choose to chow down on. We want your family to be able to focus on all the fun things Halloween has to offer rather than waiting around for an orthodontic repair appointment, so our team has put together this Halloween Survival Guide for our braces patients to help you make the most of it!
Inspect their candy bags carefully
Before your child heads out to trick-or-treat, remind them not to eat anything from their bag until you’ve had a chance to go through it. Pull out any hard candy, since chewing these puts pressure on braces that can lead to breaking or bending. You’ll also want to toss anything that has nuts or caramel. Chewy treats can stick to brackets and wires, and can even pull parts off sometimes, so gum and Tootsie Rolls need to go, too.
Does your child have plans to attend any Halloween parties or events? If so, make sure they’re confident about avoiding restricted foods inside and outside your home. For example, candy apples and caramel corn are classic party favorites, but they can wreak havoc on braces in no time.
While you can’t control what others give out on Halloween night, or what snacks will be served at parties, you can do your part by keeping a small amount of braces-friendly treats on hand in your own home for your child to enjoy anytime without worry!
Create your own tasty treats
Speaking of having treats on hand at home, why not create a few handmade goodies to make up for any candy that can’t be eaten? We’ve added a couple of fangtastic recipes we love below, and as a bonus, they’re healthy as well as delicious!
(adapted from www.familyfreshmeals.com)
- 1 can pineapple chunks, drained
- 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
- Cool Whip
- Candy corn
- 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.
(recipe thanks to www.momskitchenhandbook.com)
- 3 bananas
- 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 unopened candy
As frustrating as it can be for kids to have to give up so much of their Halloween haul, you can easily turn it into a positive experience by donating any unopened candy. Doing something kind for others gives kids a sense of pride, and it’s a great way to put a smile on someone’s face! There are many charitable organizations that accept candy donations, including:
Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to U.S. troops stationed overseas and to first responders here at home. Kids are encouraged to include letters and pictures with their donation. This can make the whole process even more special!
Soldiers’ Angels, who do a “Treats for Troops” event annually, and you can click here to find a donation drop-off point. The website even offers information on starting a drive of your own.
Ronald McDonald House, which provides a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill. Most locations accept donations of unopened Halloween candy for their resident families after Halloween, but you may want to call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off donations at the location nearest you.
If you’d rather keep things a little closer to home, check with your local shelters, food pantries, or nursing homes. Many are happy to take donations of unopened candy for residents and guests. At Rhoads Orthodontics, we typically hold a Candy Buy Back event where we will accept unopened candy in exchange for cash or rewards points. We then donate the candy we collect.
Remember the basics of braces care
You probably already monitor your child’s brushing and flossing habits, but this becomes especially important in the week or two after Halloween. Even braces-friendly candy will increase the amount of sugar your child is consuming, and it can lead to extra plaque and even cavities if it’s not removed quickly and effectively. Braces patients should be brushing at least twice a day, drinking extra water to rinse off any sugary debris, and flossing every night before bed. This is also a great time to try an oral irrigator, if you haven’t already. The pressurized stream of water will help clear stubborn sugar from the teeth, preventing it from building up around the brackets.
Happy Halloween from Rhoads Orthodontic Specialist
We hope this guide has shown you that being in braces doesn’t have to take any of the fun out of Halloween for your child! Keep the emphasis on all the fun treats that are still available to them instead of focusing on what they can’t have, and remember that our team is always here if you have any questions or concerns. Whatever your family has planned for Halloween this month, we wish you a spooktacularly safe, happy holiday full of happy smiles!