October comes with crisp mornings, falling leaves, and all the spooky sights of Halloween, but it’s not uncommon for kids in braces to feel a little nervous about working their way through bowls and bags full of sweet treats while wearing braces. Here at Langford Orthodontics, we want our patients to be able to focus on all the crazy costumes and fun fests this time of year has to offer, not bent wires, broken brackets, and emergency appointments. Below you’ll find a list of candy your kids can happily indulge in, which ones to avoid, and some ideas for ways to get rid of all the leftovers you don’t want to leave in the house!

Candy that gets our orthodontic seal of approval

Being in braces doesn’t have to mean staring wistfully from the sidelines while everyone else digs into their Halloween haul. There are plenty of ghoulish goodies braces patients can still enjoy in moderation! Soft chocolate is a classic choice, and one that includes a long list of time-honored treats like:

Be aware that biting into bigger sized candy bars can damage the brackets adhered to your child’s front teeth. Mini and fun-sized bars are the way to go to keep braces safe!

Creepy candies to avoid

When it comes to braces, one of the scariest things about Halloween is all the sticky, chewy candy people love to hand out. These are the worst kinds of sugary sweets for orthodontic patients, because they tend to stick in all the nooks and crannies, and can even pull parts off. Chewing on hard, crunchy candy also puts a huge amount of pressure on your braces, which can easily lead to broken brackets and bent wires. Remember that every time a bracket or wire has to be repaired or replaced, it sets the orthodontic process back a step, which can add to the total time your child is in braces. To keep their treatment plan on track, keep the following treats off the table. 

    • caramels
    • bubblegum
    • hard candy
    • taffy
    • licorice
    • nuts
    • jelly beans
    • candy corn
    • popcorn
    • chewy candy
  • candy apples

Dr. Langford talking with staff

Ideas for clearing your house of leftover candy

Most of us end up with way more candy than we could ever need, and that’s before taking out all the forbidden pieces! There are a number of different ways to clear your house of all that excess sugar, and we’ve included a few of our favorites below to give you some idea of where to get started.

Exchange it

Introduce your kids to the “Candy Fairy” or the “Switch Witch!” Have them leave the candy they can’t eat out (or don’t want) out before bed and swap them out for a book, small toy, or other gift while they’re sleeping. This creative solution adds a sense of magic and fun to what can sometimes be a frustrating experience for braces patients.

Make Halloween bark

This recipe has been adapted from the browneyedbaker.com, and is a fantastic way to use up all the extra candies you have laying around after Halloween.

Leftover Halloween Candy Bark

Yields about 2 lbs.

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

    • 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

Directions:

    • 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 the Halloween haul

Donating unwrapped candy is a really simple way to brighten someone’s day! Donating gives kids a sense of pride and it also helps to take the sting out of not being able to indulge in some of their favorite Halloween treats. Many charitable organizations accept donations of unopened candy, including:

Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude sends care packages to U.S. troops stationed in overseas and first responders here at home. Their mission is putting smile on soldiers’ faces, and kids are encouraged to include letters and pictures with their donation.

Soldiers’ Angels

Similar to Operation Gratitude but on a smaller scale, Soldiers’ Angels do a “Treats for Troops” event annually. Click here to find a donation drop-off point. You can even register to start a drive of your own!

Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House provides a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill, and most locations will accept donations of unopened candy for their resident families after Halloween. You can find your local chapter here, but you may want to call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off candy.

If you want to keep things closer to home, check with your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food pantry, or nursing home. Children in shelters may not have the chance to go trick-or-treating, and you can make donations for nursing home residents and guests even more special by including notes or drawings from your children.

Langford staff talking with a patient

Happy Halloween from Langford Orthodontics

Being a braces patient doesn’t have to take the fun out of your child’s Halloween celebrations. With a little creativity, you can make it a night to remember for the whole family! If you still have any questions or concerns about helping your child navigate this holiday – and others – in braces, our dedicated team are always here to help. Whatever your family’s plans for Halloween include, we wish you a safe and happy holiday full of healthy smiles!

- Dr. Langford

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