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It seems like braces and Halloween candy mix like oil and water—or vampires and werewolves, if you prefer. But the truth is not ALL Halloween candy is off-limits for braces wearers. Of course, there are foods to avoid with braces. You probably learned about those at one of your initial orthodontist visits. Fortunately, the news is better than you may think because it’s possible to find tasty treats and candy you and your kids can enjoy with braces.

Here’s a handy checklist to help you survive Halloween temptations with a healthier smile and even find a few sweets you can enjoy!

  • Avoid hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy snacks and candies. These include caramel, gummies, licorice, taffy, bubblegum (even sugarless) and jelly beans. These will stick more to braces and make cleaning your teeth harder.
  • Hard-shelled peanut candies, nuts or nut-filled candies, taco chips and popcorn are also on the avoid list.
  • If this all seems a little icy so far, we apologize, but that also brings up a good point. Braces or not, Never Eat Ice! It can chip teeth, damage enamel, and crack the cement that bonds the braces to the teeth.
  • And now for the good news, especially for chocoholics: soft, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates like peanut butter cups are OK. Soft chocolate saves the day! Hurray for peanut butter cups!
  • Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on what you can. The American Association of Orthodontists has some tasty recipes on their website that look delicious.
  • Finally, always brush and floss immediately after eating candy to fight cavities. And, if it isn’t possible to brush right away, drink a glass of water to remove some of the sugar from your mouth.

It helps to keep in mind that eating the foods you’re supposed to avoid can lead to broken wires or brackets. That not only hurts—it can mean having to wear braces longer. Remember— one moment of caramel or popcorn isn’t worth more months of braces!