Is there anything more frightening than saying “no” to candy around Halloween? For kids with braces, that horror is all too real!
Braces wearers and their parents will be pleased to learn that not all sweet treats are off-limits. What Halloween candy can you eat with braces? It turns out that there are quite a few options that are perfectly fine to eat. We have compiled this guide to what candy is safe to eat with braces vs. what will send a cold chill down the orthodontist’s spine.
Why Some Candy is Bad For Braces
At the Dental Health Society, we are not anti-candy. We know people love it and we do too. In fact, we’ve even been known to celebrate National Candy Month. Eating candy is not necessarily bad for teeth, as long as patients do not have too much and maintain good dental hygiene after having a treat.
Patients who wear braces, on the other hand, need to avoid certain types of candy as well as other food. Particular kinds of food can harm braces and teeth, which could potentially make treatment take longer. Some possible negative effects of eating candy are:
Cavities form when bacteria in the mouth build up on the teeth. They form a sticky substance called plaque that eventually eats away at a tooth’s hard enamel surface. Sugar feeds these bacteria, so things like candy can contribute to the problem if it is not cleaned off with brushing and flossing. Braces provide a lot of places where sugar can hide. This can make cavities more likely as it is hard to reach the entire tooth with a toothbrush for thorough cleaning.
The wires used for braces are made to be stiff but flexible so they can move as the teeth move. Some foods, especially caramel candy and gum, are gooey and sticky. Not only can this pose a cavity threat by getting trapped beneath the braces’ wires, but it can also bend them. This is true for both metal and clear regular braces and lingual braces.
Hard candies, nuts, or other foods that patients bite into can break brackets right off the teeth. For the same reason, things like chewing ice or eating foods like corn-on-the-cob are also discouraged. Patients with braces can still enjoy some types of hard candy as long as they let them dissolve rather than chewing them.
It is common to have some sensitivity and pain when wearing braces, especially immediately after the orthodontist tightens the wires. Eating anything, including candy during these times can cause additional discomfort. This is especially true for anything that requires a lot of chewing.
Halloween Candy You Should Never Eat With Braces
To keep braces in good shape, avoid the following Halloween goodies:
- Chewing gum
- Chews (Tootsie rolls, Milk Duds, Starburst, Skittles, etc.)
- Gummy candies
- Jelly beans
- Hard candies/Jawbreakers
- Caramel Apples
Use Caution with These Candies
Some of the Halloween candy listed above can be enjoyed, provided they are eaten in a very specific way. For example, hard candy like a lollypop is okay as long as it dissolves and is not bitten down on. The same can be done with Starburst or Tootsie Rolls, as long as the eater can resist the urge to chew.
Biting into a caramel apple is bad for two reasons: The sticky caramel coating and the hard apple that could break off brackets. But a similar treat can be enjoyed by cutting an apple into thin slices and dipping it into caramel sauce.
Some orthodontists put anything with a hard candy shell on the “Avoid” list, but others disagree. M&Ms (without nuts) and Reese’s Pieces are usually fine if not chomped down on. Skittles, however, are both hard and chewy, so they should be left alone.
Nestle Crunch bars are not too crunchy, and the caramel in Milky Way and Twix are soft enough to be safe as long as the patient is careful. When in doubt, break the bar into pieces rather than biting into it whole.
These Halloween Treats are Safe to Eat With Braces
Even though the above list rules out a lot of things, there are still plenty of options one can eat with braces. Anything that is not particularly crunchy, chewy, gooey, or hard is fair game. Try these Halloween treats:
- Chocolate (without nuts or caramel)
- Peanut butter cups
- Kit Kats or other wafer candy
- 3 Musketeers bars
- Marshmallow candies
- Soft cookies
Tips to Enjoy Halloween With Braces
Braces involve a significant investment of both time and money to get straighter teeth. It is possible to enjoy Halloween and all of its goodies without causing costly damage or a setback in the treatment timeline by following a few tips:
- Be careful about what you eat with braces. Stay away from things that are likely to break, bend, or get stuck under wires and between teeth.
- Pay special attention to oral hygiene after indulging in Halloween treats. Brush and floss promptly to clean away all cavity-causing bits of food.
- If what you can and can not eat with braces is a deciding factor in whether or not to get them, consider an alternative like Invisalign. Clear plastic aligners are removed for eating, so there are no restrictions on Halloween candy or any type of food you can have.
Having braces does not mean that Halloween will not be fun. There are plenty of candy options that are fine for trick-or-treaters with braces. When in doubt about what is safe to eat with braces, check with your orthodontist.
If you are considering braces for your child or yourself, you can find a dental professional in your area by using our online search tool.