The Tricks to Treats for Braces-Wearers
Can you believe Halloween is coming up so soon?
It’s always a fun time of year, with the spooky movies, the decorations, the costumes, and the tasty treats. We’re not here to drop toothbrushes in anyone’s candy buckets, but we do want to offer some tips on making Halloween as healthy for our patients’ teeth — and as safe for their braces — as possible.
The Worst Halloween Candy for Teeth and Braces
Hard, sour, and sticky candies are definitely in the bad category, even for those without braces. It takes time for hard candy to dissolve, which means an extended sugar bath for the teeth, and they can easily pop a bracket loose. Sticky candy adheres to our teeth and gums, which brings all that sugar directly to the harmful bacteria. Sour candy is acidic as well as sugary, making it doubly harmful.
Better Treats for Dental and Orthodontic Health
So what’s the good news after all that? Chocolate! It contains compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols, which limit oral bacteria, slow tooth decay, and fight bad breath. However, the more sugar there is in it, the more it cancels out the good effects, which is why dentists prefer dark chocolate. No nuts, though! Those can snag a bracket.
The best candy for teeth is anything sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar. This sugar-free sweetener is not only inedible to harmful bacteria, it even hurts them! The only problem is that there aren’t many xylitol candy options besides sugar-free gum in most candy bowls, and gum is on the banned foods list too. Hopefully we’ll see xylitol in more braces-friendly types of candy before long!
Other candies that are safe to eat with braces and not terrible for your teeth include mint patties, peanut butter cups, and nut-free chocolate bars. These are soft and not too sticky, so you can safely bite into them without risking a bracket.
Minimizing Sugar’s Effects on Your Teeth
If you have a sweet tooth that won’t be denied, there are other ways to fight back against the effect sugar has on teeth, such as:
- Keep the candy consumption to mealtimes. Snacking on it between meals gives oral bacteria an all-day sugar buffet, but only eating it at mealtimes gives your saliva a chance to wash away traces of sugar and neutralize your oral pH.
- Follow the candy with a drink of water. That will rinse off some of the sugar.
- Don’t slack on brushing and flossing! These daily habits are essential to keep sugar from doing lasting harm to tooth enamel.
Make Use of Your Dental Health Professionals
Another resource you have for keeping your teeth healthy even with all the candy Halloween brings is the dentist. Make sure you’re sticking to your usual twice-yearly appointments so the dentist can make sure you don’t have any post-Halloween cavities! And if a bracket does come loose, don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can keep your treatment on schedule.