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Keep Your Teeth Safe

Don't let those Halloween treats trick you into forgetting to keep your teeth safe

Halloween can be a scary time for your teeth. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) offers these tips to keep your teeth safe from decay, and protect your braces during the Halloween season:

Don't get into a sticky situation with your braces.avoid sticky or chewy candy and snacks. These include hard or chewy candies, caramel, licorice, taffy, bubblegum (even the sugarless kind) and jelly beans. Also steer away from nuts, taco chips, and popcorn (especially unpopped kernels).

"If it's sticky, chewy, hard or crunchy, it's a food that anyone wearing braces or retainers should avoid," said Dr. B. Melvin DeSoto, AAO president. "Eating the wrong kinds of foods can harm your braces and possibly set back your treatment."

Good alternatives for people with braces include soft chocolates, peanut butter cups or other melt-in-your-mouth varieties. The AAO offers braces-friendly recipes on its Web site,

If you consume sweets, do so in moderation. Don't be tempted to grab another handful from the bowl filled with treats. Parents may want to limit the time during which children can eat from the Halloween candy bowl.

"Not only does eating too much candy put you at greater risk for tooth decay, it can also lead to a host of other health problems including obesity," DeSoto said.

Regular brushing and flossing are more important than ever during the Halloween season, when teeth may receive more exposure to sugary foods that can cause cavities. People with braces should be especially conscientious about brushing and flossing often.

October is National Orthodontic Health Month, when the AAO works to educate the public about protecting their teeth during Halloween and informs people of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. This is the tenth anniversary of National Orthodontic Health Month.

For more information about orthodontics or for the names of AAO-member orthodontists in your area, call 1-800-STRAIGHT or visit