Valentine’s Day is another fun “candy holiday” for kids.
Long before kids are old enough to think about romance, classrooms often recognize Valentine’s Day as a chance to celebrate important friendships. Along with the opportunity to make cards comes plenty of sweet treats. This can include cakes, pies, and – of course – bagged candy.
Nobody wants to be a stick in the mud, but parents (and Port Orange orthodontists!) know that sugar is the natural enemy of kids’ teeth. In fact, there’s no other fuel that bacteria in the mouth like more than sugar. When a kid has braces, the story becomes a little bit more complicated.
Braces Don’t Mean “No Candy,” But Kids Should Get Help from Trusted Adults
No matter if a kid has metal braces or clear braces, they need to be careful about what they eat. Foods that are tough or hard have the potential to bend the metal of the braces. Foods that are chewy or sticky can get into difficult places and be challenging to clean.
With braces, it’s a wise idea to work with your kids’ teacher and make sure any candy gets taken home, not eaten in class. If some candy must be enjoyed in class (so your little one doesn’t feel left out), set guidelines so they understand. The teacher may also be able to help.
Things are a lot easier when all candy gets brought home since you can make sure anything damaging to braces is avoided. It’s not “goodbye forever,” after all. Most packaged candy is good for months or even years as long as it isn’t opened. It can be a special treat later on when braces come off.
But what, exactly, do you need to skip?
Let’s look at some of the most common Valentine’s Day candies and find out.
Valentine’s Day Candy Kids with Braces Should Watch Out for
Just like Halloween, there are some candies that always seem to pop up around Valentine’s Day. With a little planning, you’ll know exactly what to do with the most common Valentine’s Day candy, and that makes a big difference for your kid’s orthodontic treatments!
Here’s what to know:
1. Heart-Shaped Message Candy
The traditional Valentine’s heart-shaped candy is something you should usually skip. Although these can melt on the tongue, they usually get crunched (crunch, crunch) between teeth. And, yes, they’re just hard enough that they can cause trouble. The lucky thing? Most kids don’t consider this stuff a favorite. It’s chalky and a little bit weird. Encourage them to pass on this one.
2. Chocolate Assortments
Adults love chocolate too, and it’s not out of the ordinary for moms to end up with assorted chocolate on Valentine’s Day. If you want to share, then boxed chocolate truffles with no inclusions (like fruit or nuts) are usually safe. But there are some extra ingredients you’ll want to steer clear of with braces.
Chocolates with caramel filling are an absolute “no-go.” Caramel easily gets stuck in small spaces in and around braces. It can be difficult to clean out, and sometimes, you might risk bending a wire or even breaking a band. Caramel is tasty, but it’s definitely not worth it.
Always avoid Tootsie Rolls, caramels, and soft butterscotch candies.
Chocolate with nuts can also be difficult with braces. As they’re chewed, most nuts break down into tiny shards that can stick to the strangest places. There’s less risk that braces will get broken, but teeth could be damaged if small bits of nuts get trapped against enamel, leading to plaque.
3. Hard Candies Like Jolly Ranchers
Hard candies vary in exactly how hard they are, with Jolly Ranchers being both tough and sticky. Sweet Tarts and Smarties are also common, but a little less rough on teeth. Kids should never crunch down on these candies and should have them one at a time if possible. The safest way to eat them is to let them melt in the mouth. If the candies stick to the teeth, brush them right away.
4. M&M’s, Individually-Wrapped Dove, and Hershey’s Kisses
Even though M&M’s have a hard candy exterior, the candy is soft enough that it doesn’t interfere with braces. It melts fast, and the remnants are easily cleaned with an ordinary brush. Hershey’s Kisses are safe, too: They melt in seconds. If you don’t have a toothbrush handy right after eating one, a quick rinse with fluoridated mouthwash will tide you over.
Wondering about your child’s favorite Valentine’s Day candy?
Schedule a consultation to get your questions answered directly by Dr. Beauchamp.