Good News For Trick-Or-Treaters With Braces

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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If you wear braces, there's nothing to be afraid of: Halloween can still be a sweet experience. Celebrity chef and author Michael Chiarello, of Food Network's "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello" and Fine Living Network's "NapaStyle," has teamed up with the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) to provide braces-friendly Halloween recipes for the more than five million children and adults in North America who currently wear braces.

Halloween tends to be one of the busiest times of the year at orthodontists' offices, primarily because patients eat treats that they should not be eating. Candies and other treats that are hard, chewy, sticky or crunchy can cause damage to orthodontic patients' braces. Broken braces can be uncomfortable for the patient and may even prolong treatment. As part of October's National Orthodontic Health Month, Chiarello and the AAO are providing braces-friendly Halloween recipes and tips to help orthodontic patients and parents enjoy the holiday.

"My family and I love to create special meals together, but when my daughter recently got braces, we had to modify some of our favorite recipes," says Chiarello. The braces-friendly recipes we've come up with -- like Green Goo Slimedoo and Black and Orange Bon Bons -- allow my daughter to enjoy the holiday without causing harm to her braces. Plus, they are fun to make together."

"Eating food that could harm a patient's braces may affect treatment length and results, just as if they were not tending to oral hygiene or wearing their rubber bands," says Raymond George, Sr., DMD, an orthodontist and president of the AAO. "If orthodontic patients are careful about the Halloween treats they eat, they can keep their braces intact and should be able to finish treatment on time and with good results."

What kind of Halloween treats can/can't orthodontic patients have?

The good news is that there are plenty of food options for orthodontic patients. And with a little diligence and creativity, orthodontic patients can still enjoy Halloween treats. In general, orthodontic patients should look for softer treats, such as soft chocolate or peanut butter cups, or melt-in-your- mouth foods.

Any foods that are sticky, chewy, hard or crunchy should be avoided by anyone wearing braces or retainers. To help provide guidelines for orthodontic patients, the AAO recommends patients steer clear of the following Halloween treats, or recipes with these ingredients:

-- All hard candies

-- All chewy candies

-- Caramel

-- Nuts

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-- Licorice

-- Taffy

-- Jelly beans

-- Hard pretzels

-- Bubblegum

-- Popcorn (including unpopped kernels)

-- Taco chips

-- Ice

Is it okay for orthodontic patients to eat sweets?

A few sweets can be okay occasionally, provided that the patient remembers to brush and floss after eating. Patients wearing braces need to pay special attention to keeping braces, teeth and gums clean during orthodontic treatment. When braces are placed on patients, orthodontists instruct them in maintaining good oral hygiene. Generally, orthodontists advise patients on how often to brush and to floss every day between teeth, around brackets and at the gumline. Floss threaders help patients maneuver dental floss between archwires and teeth.

"By following their orthodontist's guidance on dental hygiene and avoiding certain foods for the relatively short duration of orthodontic treatment, patients will be on track to a lifetime of healthy teeth and a beautiful smile," says Dr. George.

What should orthodontic patients do if food damages their braces?

If a patient chews on the wrong type of treat and damage occurs, they should call their orthodontist so that arrangements can be made to correct the problem. "Typically, small problems can be solved over the phone. Loose brackets or wires can usually be made more comfortable by applying some orthodontic wax until the patient can come into the office," says Dr. George.

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