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Kids Turn News

Braces-Wearers Beware: Certain Sweet Treats Can Bite Back

Happy Halloween

The American Association of Orthodontists will provide recipes and tips to help avoid unwanted office visits during the Halloween season

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Halloween is a time when the vampire fangs come out in full force. However, for orthodontic patients certain sweet treats can bite back. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has teamed up with Pam Waterman, author of The Braces Cookbook, to bring orthodontic-friendly recipes and treats to trick-or-treaters and their parents. It's no trick - these recipes are fun to make, fun to eat, and they won't put a dent in the smiles of the nearly five million orthodontic patients currently in North America who wear braces, clear aligners or other orthodontic appliances to help them achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.

Halloween tends to be one of the busiest times of the year at orthodontists' offices, primarily because patients indulge in treats that they should not be eating. Candies and other treats that are hard, chewy, sticky or crunchy can cause damage to braces, clear aligners and other orthodontic appliances. In addition to patient discomfort, a broken bracket or loose wire may prolong treatment and require additional orthodontic appointments. As part of October's National Orthodontic Health Month, the AAO is providing orthodontic-friendly Halloween recipes and tips to help patients and their families enjoy the holiday.

"Halloween should be a fun time for all kids including those in orthodontic treatment," says Dr. Lee W. Graber, orthodontist and president of the American Association of Orthodontists. "We're pleased to team up with Pam Waterman, author of the Braces Cookbooks, and offer tips and recipes that will help keep braces intact and patients satisfied this Halloween season."

Featured Halloween recipes include Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Softies and Black Cherry Fruit Bats - a complete list of orthodontic-friendly recipes are at the AAO's Web site, braces.org.

"The recipes we've developed are delicious and allow orthodontic patients, like my son, to enjoy the holiday without causing harm to their braces," says author Pam Waterman. "Plus, they are fun to make together."

What kinds of Halloween treats are "orthodontic-friendly"?

The good news is that there are plenty of food options for orthodontic patients and with a little 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. Those with braces or retainers should avoid any foods that are sticky, chewy, hard or crunchy. The AAO recommends patients avoid the following Halloween treats, or recipes with these ingredients:

  • Caramel
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn (including un-popped kernels)
  • Taffy
  • Jelly beans
  • Hard pretzels
  • Licorice
  • Bubblegum
  • Taco chips
  • Ice

Is it okay for orthodontic patients to eat sweets?

A few sweets can be okay occasionally, if the patient remembers to brush and floss afterwards. Orthodontic patients need to pay special attention to keeping braces or other orthodontic appliances clean, as well as teeth and gums. Orthodontists can advise patients on how best to brush and floss between teeth, around brackets and at the gum line. Dr. Graber reminds patients that if they follow their orthodontist's recommendations, practice good oral hygiene, and are careful about the foods they eat, they should be able to finish treatment on time and with good results.

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.

Who is an orthodontist?

When it comes to getting a healthy straight smile, education is key. Orthodontists receive an additional two-to-three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. As experts in creating healthy, beautiful smiles, orthodontists have the education, experience and expertise to recommend the best treatment option.

For orthodontic-friendly recipes and tips, visit www.braces.org. Additional tips and information can be found on the AAO's Facebook, Twitter (@Braces) and YouTube pages. To locate an orthodontist, click on "Find an Orthodontist" at braces.org or ask your dentist for a referral.


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About the American Association of Orthodontists
The AAO comprises 16,000 members in the United States, Canada and abroad. Founded in 1900, the AAO supports research and education leading to quality patient care and promotes increased public awareness of the need for and benefits of orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists are uniquely qualified to correct improperly aligned teeth and jaws. They are specialists in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists receive two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. Only those with this education may call themselves "orthodontists," and only orthodontists may be members of the AAO.