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For most children, October means one thing: Halloween candy. For orthodontists, it’s a month for embracing beautiful, healthy smiles in honor of National Orthodontic Health Month.

After all, we all know that Halloween treats tend to play tricks on patients. That’s why Spillers Orthodontics offers patients and the entire community five timely tips to protect braces, aligners and other orthodontic “appliances” while protecting teeth from decay.

1. Avoid sticky situations with your braces and aligners: Stay away from hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy candy and snacks. These include caramel, gummies, licorice, taffy, bubblegum (even the sugarless kind) and jelly beans.

2. Say “boo” to hard treats: including hard-shelled peanut candies, nuts or nut-filled candies, taco chips and popcorn (especially unpopped kernels). And whether in orthodontic treatment or not, Dr. Spillers and Dr. Gordon caution that no one should ever chew ice.

3. Brush up! Sweets can cause cavities, which means brushing and flossing are more important than ever during the Halloween season. Orthodontic patients should be especially vigilant about brushing and flossing after consuming sugary or starchy foods.

4. Spooktacular news: Not all Halloween candy is off-limits. Good alternatives include soft chocolates, peanut butter cups or other melt-in-your-mouth varieties. The American Association of Orthodontists even offers orthodontic-friendly recipes for Halloween on its website at here.

5. Make a commitment to oral health: Deciding to avoid hard and chewy sweets before the Halloween season increases your rate of success and reduces the likelihood that you’ll break braces.

It’s okay for orthodontic patients to enjoy some treats at Halloween. We want everyone to have fun. At the same time, we encourage patients to enjoy acceptable treats in moderation and take that extra couple of minutes to brush and floss. When orthodontic treatment is complete, and patients see their healthy and beautiful new smiles in the mirror, they will know all of their efforts were worthwhile.