Celebrate Halloween with the Right Kind of Treats

Feature photo by Whitney Moore Photography.

Not only is OCTOBER a time to celebrate beautiful, healthy smiles honoring National Orthodontic Health Month and National Dental Hygiene Month, but it is also the perfect time to review a few helpful “tricks” on how to keep your smile healthy, braces intact, and still celebrate Halloween! Orthodontists and dentists tend to have a reputation for putting a damper on Halloween fun.  However, Halloween is one of Dr. Godley’s favorite holidays to celebrate!  So what better way to celebrate all three than by discussing how to prevent scary dental hygiene with braces.

TRICK OR TREAT: Can I eat Halloween candy with braces?

YES!  You can still enjoy candy while wearing braces.  When undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is important to be selective in the treats you pick to avoid damaging your braces and prevent cavities.  Broken brackets will require extra trips to the orthodontist for repair, and multiple broken brackets will extend your time in braces.  Also keep in mind the drinks you enjoy that might have added sugar – like soda, sweet tea, energy, and sports drinks. Sugar can lead to cavities, causing decalcification (white marks) on teeth.  

You are probably wondering what treats you CAN enjoy?  Quite a lot!  To help you select which treats to enjoy and which to avoid, we have put together a “Bad, Better, and Best Snacks – Halloween Candy Edition!”

BAD (Avoid!):
Gummy or sticky candies
Crunchy cookies
Jellybeans/Sour Patch Kids
Hard candies

Soft, melt-in-your-mouth treats!
Reese’s peanut butter cups
Soft cookies
M&Ms (without nuts)
Junior mints
3 Musketeers

Chocolates (without nuts or caramel)
Ice Cream
Sliced apples with peanut butter

As long as you are sticking to the “Better” and “Best” lists, your smile will stay BOO-tiful!  If you do happen to have any braces come undone or break, be sure to contact your orthodontist to schedule an appointment and help keep your treatment on track.

TRICK OR TRUTH: Do Clean Teeth Really Move Faster?

It’s no TRICK! Clean teeth DO help move your teeth faster making your orthodontic treatment time less!  Plaque and bacteria cause gingival inflammation (also known as gingivitis) which slows down bone cells that are necessary to straighten and move teeth.  Gingival inflammation also makes the gums puffy, thicker, and overgrown which not only creates more areas where plaque and bacteria can hide but also creates more tissue for the tooth to move through to straighten out.  Patients who have gingivitis have a higher risk of dental decay.  If dental decay occurs during orthodontic treatment, treatment may have to be discontinued temporarily until restorative treatment is completed by the dentist, which could increase your orthodontic treatment time.  Chronic inflammation can also lead to gum and bone recession and other costly dental work.

Do not be frightened, here are some hygiene TREATS to prevent white spots (beginning cavities):

White spots (enamel decalcification) are 100% preventable with good oral hygiene.  Follow these recommendations to ensure a healthy smile during orthodontic treatment.

1) Brush your teeth: Ideally, you should brush after every meal when you have orthodontic treatment, however, at a minimum, you should be brushing at least 2 times a day for at least 2 minutes. Night-time brushing is the most important time to brush your teeth to remove all the food and bacteria on your teeth before going to sleep. 

2) Use an electric toothbrush:  It’s a fact that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual brushes. The vibration can also loosen the bacteria that are harder to reach in all the nooks and crannies in brackets. It does not matter what brand of toothbrush you buy, make sure it is rechargeable- not battery-powered.  I think the Oral-B electric toothbrushes work best with orthodontic treatment because they vibrate and spin creating a sweeping motion around each bracket. 

3) Don’t skip flossing:  No matter which type of toothbrush you use, a toothbrush can never clean in between your teeth, especially with added brackets and wires on your teeth.  You must use floss threaders or a water flosser every day to clean your teeth. Waterflossers are great tools to help wash out food and plaque from around braces and between teeth, They are an effective, gentle, alternative to floss. 

4) Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day.

5) Visit your dentist regularly: Orthodontic treatment with braces and Invisalign increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, so it is crucial to maintain your 6-month dental check-up and cleaning with your dentist during treatment.  This will ensure any beginning cavities are caught, and you enjoy a happy, healthy smile!

For more tips on how to keep your smile healthy during orthodontic treatment, visit the Godley Family Orthodontics website: www.godleyfamilyortho.com