The Impact of Candy on Your Child’s Braces

With Halloween just around the corner, kids who are going through orthodontic treatment might need to reevaluate what they eat from their trick-or-treat stash.

Sugary treats are going to end up in your child’s trick-or-treat bag, but they shouldn’t all end up in their mouths – especially if they have braces.

Candy that is hard, chewy, or sticky can wreak havoc on your child’s orthodontic hardware, says Dr. G. Michael Kabot, DDS, MS, of Kabot Family Orthodontics, which has offices in Clawson and Farmington.

And that’s especially true for those wearing light wire braces, which are smaller and more comfortable, yet just as effective as the traditional braces of years past.

“Back in the day, we used heavy duty wires, put metal rings around many of the teeth, and had to physically tighten the braces at each appointment,” Dr. Kabot says. “We always thought we needed more power, but we actually don’t.”

That’s why many orthodontists, including Dr. Kabot, have opted to use this lighter style of orthodontic treatment.

However, orthodontic treatment with light wire braces can go askew if kids aren’t careful about what they’re consuming.

So what are the worst candy offenders, and which sweets should kids eat instead? In honor of National Orthodontic Health Month, Dr. Kabot reviews the rules for enjoying candy responsibly.

Candy culprits

Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Milk Duds, Airheads, Nerds, Gummy Bears, Twizzlers, chewy Jolly Ranchers, and any candy with caramel – these are just some of the candy choices that Dr. Kabot says children should avoid while they are in braces.

And for good reason. Hard or chewy candy can not only cause damage to the teeth, including cavities and decalcification, but they can also weaken wires and break off brackets. As a result, says Dr. Kabot, “the braces aren’t fixing anything because the wires are so trashed. Sometimes they’re bent so badly, they’re actually moving teeth in the wrong direction.”

“The other issue that is important is how much citric acid is in that candy, because basically anything that tastes good has citric acid and sugar in it. Those two things are like battery acid on teeth,” Dr. Kabot says. In addition to candy, soda (like Mountain Dew), Gatorade, Propel and Vitamin Water all have a significant amount of sugar and citric acid in them.

In an effort to educate local kids on the importance of oral hygiene, Dr. Kabot’s staff offers a free interactive presentation to elementary schools throughout Oakland County during National Dental Health Month in February.

Alternatives and care

While sugar should be avoided as much as possible for a variety of health reasons, it’s not realistic to expect kids to avoid it all together – especially during the Halloween season. So what should they eat instead?

“When kids have braces on, I tell them any kind of chocolate candy is OK,” Dr. Kabot says.

Kit Kats, Hershey bars, M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are some of the safer alternatives. Just be sure to avoid chocolate treats that have been in the freezer, since biting into a frozen chocolate bar can cause damage.

As always, families should make sure their children are seeing their dentist every six months for a cleaning.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit


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