With Halloween quickly approaching, the stores are already full of costumes and candy. If you have braces, Halloween can be like looking in the window of a haunted house – you want to go in, but you know you shouldn’t. Popped brackets, broken wires, and the risk of cavities sound like a horror movie in itself.
Here are some tips to make your Halloween a little less spooky:
Set a Specific “Treat Time” – When you eat, saliva production increases. By eating your sweet treats with a meal or immediately after, you help reduce acids made by bacteria and saliva can help rinse away food particles. Choose a time, either lunch or dinner, and have a piece of candy after your meal. By looking forward to a little post-meal treat, you can also prevent yourself from snacking on candy all day.
Brush and Floss After Meals – While this is always good advice while undergoing orthodontic treatment, it’s especially important if you are enjoying some of your hard-earned Halloween treats. Using a fluoridated mouth rinse can also help keep cavities at bay.
Choose Your Treats Wisely – You should always be mindful of what you eat when you have braces. Avoid super-sticky treats like caramels. Sticky candies can get stuck in your brackets and are hard to clean out of the tiny spaces. You should also avoid hard candies like jawbreakers. Not only can they both dislodge brackets, but because they dissolve slowly, they can increase your risk of cavities. Opt for pure chocolate like a Hershey’s Bar or Reese’s instead of candy corns, jelly beans, and candy bars that have nuts, like Snickers.
Water, Water, Water – Necessary for life, water helps keep your body hydrated, and that includes your mouth and gums. Sipping on water throughout the day also helps wash away decay-causing bacteria and fills you up, so you’re less likely to reach for that candy bar in between meals.
Eat Well the Rest of the Time – A little treat now and then is ok, as long as your meals and other snacks are healthy. A colorful (not candy-filled) diet of fruits, veggies, lean meats, and dairy can go a long way not only in your oral health but in your physical and mental health, too. Eating a diet that’s fiber-filled keeps you feeling fuller longer, and helps prevent the sugar crashes that come with a diet that’s heavy on candy and energy drinks.
If all else fails, and you just can’t kick the candy cravings, consider donating your candy to the troops overseas, a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, senior center, women’s shelter or food bank. You can also check with your dentist to see if they offer a Halloween buyback program to exchange candy for other small gifts and non-candy treats. As with everything, moderation is key. You can still enjoy Halloween and indulge in a little candy. If you know what to choose and how to keep your mouth healthy, spending Halloween in braces doesn’t have to be so scary after all.