Halloween is a favorite holiday for kids, in great part because there are so many decadent, sugary treats free for the taking. And with Mom's approval!
But what if your child is among the 4 million kids in the United States and Canada who wear braces or a retainer? That's really scary when it comes to tricks and treats.
Along with strict directions to brush and floss well and often, orthodontic patients are warned against sticky, crunchy or chewy foods that could harm their delicate (and expensive) hardware.
They're also told to avoid excessively hard snacks such as lollipops, nuts and hard pretzels. In a nutshell, forget most everything that gets brought to school Halloween parties or is tossed in trick-or-treat bags.
Orthodontists stand firm on this. Even if it means being labeled a big ol' meanie.
That doesn't mean that kids with braces have to opt out of Halloween celebrations. Parents just have to get a little more creative with the treats they prepare for a party. Instead of caramel or candied apples, for instance, why not thinly sliced apples served with a creamy chocolate dip or flavored yogurt? Rather than popcorn balls or brownies with nuts, how about creamy edible eyeballs made with peanut butter, confectioners' sugar and melted chocolate?
Similarly, why not rethink how you make those much-beloved Rice Krispies treats. It's just as easy to bind the crisped rice cereal with melted chocolate as with marshmallows. Actually, it's easier because it's not as sticky.
Just remember to brush afterward, or your smile could end up resembling that crooked, toothy grin on the jack-o'-lantern.