Dental Health

Brace Yourself, Parents: Halloween and Orthodontic Repairs Are Coming

Braces are designed to straighten teeth, but Halloween sometimes makes parents clench theirs in frustration.

With the fun night of trick-or-treat around the corner, the annual concern of moms, dads and orthodontists is what kinds of candy the kids will eat. In any bag of goodies there’s always potential bad news – sugary delights that can cause broken brackets, bent wires and a bevy of cavities.

I think parents should understand that kids are kids, and regardless of how much you manage them or micromanage them, they’re going to eat some of this stuff because we all did when we were kids.

Halloween is a holiday created around candy, but damage done to the braces can be a big time waster for families. As orthodontists we set aside extra time in our schedule for the few days after Halloween because we see a spike in how much people come in for an unscheduled visit.

Here are the types of treats that kids wearing braces should avoid on Halloween and in general:

  • Hard candies. Removing these from the kids’ collection may not make them happy Halloween night, but in the long run making these treats a no-no will let the braces do their job without any setbacks. Anything with a hard outer shell should be ruled out. If you try to bite into those, you’re probably going to knock your brackets off.
  • The sticky, chewy, gooey stuff. Candy apples, caramels, toffee and bubblegum are frequent culprits. The sticky stuff will get wrapped around the brace, making it hard to get clean, and over time increases the risk of cavities. Also included on this list are chewable delights from fruity candy to jelly beans, gumdrops and taffy.
  • Popcorn. For those wearing bands around their teeth – the old-school, traditional style of braces – popcorn is a common problem. Part of the band extends below the gum, and the popcorn can get wedged between the gum and band, creating a gum infection. For a while we told people not to eat popcorn. However, with technology and advancements, now some braces are stuck to the teeth without bands, so that makes popcorn more OK. But you still have to be careful.

Halloween just magnifies the larger issue parents face with their sugar-loving kids throughout the year – the potential for cavities. One of the big challenges as a parent is regulating their sugar intake – the number one cause of cavities. We worry about that with braces on because they can act as little shelves, and bacteria get on top of them.

Dr. Jamie Reynolds ( is recognized on an annual basis as one of the top orthodontists in metro Detroit. His book, World Class Smiles Made in Detroit, puts an emphasis on the many benefits of having a great smile. Reynolds – who is a national and international lecturer on high-tech digital orthodontics and practice management – attended the University of Michigan for both his undergrad education and dental studies, and did his orthodontic residency at the University of Detroit-Mercy. 

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