As Halloween approaches, you may be feeling a little nervous about navigating all those bowls and bags of candy with a child in braces. As exciting as it is for kids to plan out the perfect trick-or-treat route and obsess over the last few details of their costumes, this time of year can be a source of anxiety for parents who have a child undergoing orthodontic treatment. This is particularly if you’re not sure how to walk the fine line between the food restrictions that come with braces and all the sweet treats of the season. The good news is, with a little creativity, your child will be able to enjoy plenty of ghoulish goodies without having to worry about broken brackets, bent wires, or emergency appointments!

Here at Booth Orthodontics, October is special for another reason – it’s National Orthodontic Health Month. This gives us the perfect opportunity to talk with patients about the candy they can safely indulge in and which they should avoid in order to keep their braces safe. We want you and your family to make the most of all the fun Halloween has to offer, so we’ve created this special Halloween Survival Guide To Braces to help your child survive it with their braces – and smile! – intact. We’ve also included a few helpful suggestions for using up any leftover candy so it doesn’t sit in your house for months on end. Keep reading below to learn more! 

Candy to stay away from

One of the scariest things about Halloween for orthodontists is all the chewy candy people love to hand out to trick-or-treaters. These have a terrible tendency to stick to brackets, bands, and wires, and are even capable of pulling parts off! Hard, crunchy candies aren’t much better. These can put a huge amount of pressure on braces, which may lead to broken brackets or bent wires. Because every bracket or band that has to be replaced or repaired sets the orthodontic process back a step, be sure you know what treats to keep your child away from to ensure their treatment stays on schedule. This includes:

  • Caramel
  • Bubblegum
  • Hard candy
  • Taffy
  • Licorice
  • Nuts
  • Jelly beans
  • Candy corn
  • Popcorn and caramel corn
  • Chewy candy
  • Candy and caramel apples

This may seem like a long list of candy and other Halloween classics to avoid, but being in braces doesn’t have to mean staring wistfully from the sidelines as other children dig into their bags or buckets. There’s still plenty of spooktacular stuff out there for your child to chow down on!

Booth Orthodontic Candy

Candy that gets the Booth Orthodontics seal of approval

Speaking of classics, anything with soft chocolate is a great braces-friendly option. In fact, any type of chocolate candy bar will generally be a safe bet, as long as it doesn’t contain any caramel or nuts. This means the following items get a thumbs up from us!

You may not know it, but biting into bigger candy bars can potentially damage the braces on your child’s front teeth, so breaking large candy bars into smaller pieces is a better idea. Fortunately, Halloween is full of fun-sized and mini-sized bars, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this too much!

Creative ways to clear your house of leftover candy

If you’re anything like us, you probably find extra Halloween candy still lurking around on a shelf or in a drawer sometime in the spring. Here are some of our favorite ideas for clearing out the candy your child can’t eat (or doesn’t want) right after they’ve picked out everything they want to keep!

Make cookies or brownies

You can substitute many types of candy in for chocolate chips in your favorite cookie recipes, from the obvious choices like M&M’s and Reese’s Pieces to chopped up chocolate bars or Reese’s cups. Blondies and brownies work great as a base, too. If you have the willpower, you could consider these as early holiday cookies and stick them in the freezer for a month or two. We won’t blame you eating them all them right away, though, as long as everybody remembers to brush and floss afterwards!

Donate it

Donating unwrapped candy is a really easy way to brighten someone’s day, and it can give your child a sense of pride to do something kind for others. Knowing they are bringing a smile to someone’s face also helps take the sting out of not being able to indulge in some of their favorite Halloween treats. Many charitable organizations accept candy donations, including:

Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude sends care packages to U.S. troops that are stationed overseas and first responders here at home. To make the experience even more meaningful, have your child include drawings or letters for the soldiers.

Soldiers’ Angels

Soldiers’ Angels do a “Treats for Troops” event annually. You can click here to find a donation drop-off point, or find information to start a drive of your own if you want to do more.

Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House organization provides a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill. Most of their locations will accept donations of unopened candy for families in residence after Halloween. You can find your local chapter here, although you may want to call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off candy before heading that way.

Bring it to work

Who doesn’t appreciate a little post-lunch treat in the breakroom, or a jar of candy at the edge of a coworker’s desk? You could also register your office as a Halloween candy buyback location. Although it’s traditionally been dental and orthodontic offices that participate, many local businesses have begun signing up as well. More information can be found here.

Send it to school

Many teachers use individually wrapped candy in the classroom as an occasional reward or learning tool. Send a bag of unopened candy in with your child, and for bonus points, include a note for their teacher letting them know you appreciate all they do!

Dr. Booth working with a patient

Happy Halloween from Booth Orthodontics

Having a child in braces doesn’t have to take any of the fun out of your family’s Halloween celebrations! If you’re still feeling unsure about tackling treat-or-treating with a braces patient, our team is always happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have about making your child’s treatment a total success. Whatever your plans for Halloween include this year, we hope the holiday is full of good times and healthy smiles!