October comes with colored leaves and a bite in the air, but if you have a child in braces, it may also come with a little anxiety over how to handle Halloween! It’s not uncommon for parents to feel a little nervous about helping kids navigate their way through bowls and bags full of sweet treats while undergoing orthodontic treatment. The food restrictions that come with braces can leave children and parents alike frustrated with their Halloween haul, but there are still plenty of ghoulish goodies they can indulge in without worry!
Here at Swan Orthodontics, we want our patients to focus on all the crazy costumes, fun festivals, and overall enjoyment this time of year has to offer, not bent wires, broken brackets, and scheduling emergency appointments to deal with either. Whether you want to know what candy is safe for your child to dig into, which sweets they should be avoiding, or how you can use up all the leftovers you don’t want to be stuck with until Christmas, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading below for our best tips on surviving Halloween with braces.
Candy to chow down on
Although it can feel like it, especially if braces are a relatively new experience for your child, those brackets and bands don’t have to mean staring wistfully from the sidelines while everyone else goes crazy with their candy. There are a number of spooktacular sweets kids in braces can still enjoy in moderation! Soft chocolate is a perfect choice, and one that includes many time-honored treats like:
- Reese’s peanut butter cups
- Kit Kats
- Plain M&M’s
- Reese’s Pieces
- 3 Musketeers
- Hershey Bars
- Hershey’s Kisses
NOTE: Biting into bigger sized candy bars has the potential to damage the brackets adhered to your child’s front teeth. Luckily, Halloween is full of mini and fun-sized bars to keep braces safe.
Candy to keep away from
One of the difficult things about Halloween for braces patients is all the sticky, chewy candy people handing out! These can stick to brackets, bands, and wires, and can even pull parts off. Hard, crunchy candy also puts a huge amount of pressure on your braces, which can lead to braces being broken or bent. Keep in mind that every bracket or wire that has to be repaired or replaced sets the orthodontic process back a step. This can add to the total time your child is in braces, but you can keep their treatment plan on track by avoiding any of the following treats.
- hard candy
- jelly beans
- candy corn
- chewy candy
- candy apples
Getting rid of leftover candy
Many families end up with way more candy than they need, and that’s before taking out all the pieces kids in braces can’t have! Here are a few of our favorite ways to clear your house of all that excess sugar.
Switch it out
Some parents introduce a “Candy Fairy” or the “Switch Witch” to their kids on Halloween night. Have them leave the candy they can’t eat (or the ones nobody wants) out before bed, then swap them out for a book, small toy, or other gifts while they’re sleeping. This creative solution takes what can sometimes be a frustrating experience for braces patients and makes it fun and exciting!
Turn it into something else
This recipe has been adapted from the browneyedbaker.com, and is a delicious way to use up all the extra candy you have laying around your house after Halloween.
Leftover Halloween Candy Bark
Yields about 2 lbs.
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 8 fun-size Kit Kat bars, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 fun-size Hershey bars, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 15 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, cut in half
- ¼ – ½ cup crushed plain potato chips
- 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup Reese’s Pieces
- Sprinkle of coarse sea salt to taste
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it to the side.
- Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until it is completely melted and smooth.
- Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread it into a thin layer about ¼-inch thick (roughly a 12×10-inch rectangle.)
- Sprinkle the melted chocolate with the chopped candy and potato chips, making sure all pieces touch melted chocolate so they stick. Lightly press to make sure the candy adheres to the melted chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Melt the white chocolate using the same method as the bittersweet chocolate until completely smooth.
- Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the chilled bark in a zigzag pattern. Scatter the Reese’s Pieces over the white chocolate drizzle, and once again, press softly to make sure the candy adheres to the melted white chocolate. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
- Chill again until the white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
- Cut or break the bark into irregular pieces and serve! Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Share with others
Having your child donate unwrapped candy can give them a sense of pride, and help take some of the sting out of not being able to indulge in some of their favorite Halloween treats. It’s also a really easy way to brighten someone’s day! Many charitable organizations accept donations of unopened candy, including:
Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to U.S. troops stationed in overseas and first responders here at home. Their mission is to put a smile on soldiers’ faces, and they love when kids include letters and pictures with their donation.
Soldiers’ Angels are similar to Operation Gratitude, but on a smaller scale, and they do a “Treats for Troops” event annually. Click here to find a donation drop-off point, or to register to start a drive of your own!
The Ronald McDonald House provides a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill. Most locations accept donations of unopened candy for their resident families after Halloween. Check here to find your local chapter. You may want to call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off candy.
If you’d rather keep things closer to home, homeless shelters, food pantries, or nursing homes will often accept unopened candy donations for residents and guests. You can make this even more special by including notes or drawings from your children.
Happy Halloween from Swan Orthodontics
Hopefully, this guide has shown you that braces don’t have to take the fun out of your child’s Halloween celebrations! Still not sure how to handle their haul? Our team is always here to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have about your child’s treatment plan. Whatever your family has up their sleeve for Halloween this year, Swan Orthodontics wish you a safe and happy holiday full of healthy smiles!