October is National Orthodontic Health Month, celebrated by orthodontists throughout the U.S., 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, Maui orthodontist Dr. Sujata Bhatia of Kihei*Lahaina Orthodontics, 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 should 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. Bhatia said no one should ever chew ice.
Love Your Smile
…with Dr. Bhatia
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 offers braces-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 within 30 minutes of consuming sugary or starchy foods to avoid damage to their teeth.
"It is possible to enjoy some traditional candies at Halloween without causing problems with teeth and braces," said Dr. Bhatia. "Everyone 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 the orthodontic treatment is complete, and we see our new smile in the mirror, all the efforts feel worthwhile."