When the holiday season comes around, there's no need for kids with braces to miss out on the traditional treats. Some candies can damage braces, but there are plenty of safe and tasty snacks to satisfy young taste buds without interfering with orthodontia. In fact, when preparing fun holiday treats with your child, you can include numerous healthy options that build strong teeth at the same time.
Treats to Avoid
When supermarket shelves are full of brightly packaged treats for the holidays, it's hard not to fill your cart. But for the sake of your child's braces, you still need to scoot past the hard, chewy and sticky foods. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) advises that children with braces should avoid caramel, licorice, lollipops, bubblegum, popcorn, taffy, jelly beans and hard pretzels. How come? Biting hard foods, according to Dr. Tanya Vaysman at Upper East Side Orthodontists, can bend or even break your child's metal brackets.
Recipe for Safety
Kids can enjoy the holidays without risking their braces by sticking to soft snacks and by paying extra attention to oral hygiene. The AAO suggests chocolate, peanut butter, milkshakes, gelatin-based candies and ice cream are all fun holiday treats that won't damage braces. Hard fruits such as apples, however, should be thinly sliced. The best way to enjoy sugary foods and drinks is to stick to small portions, and rinse the mouth out with water after eating, according to Dr. Vaysman. Brushing twice a day is especially important during the holidays. Encourage the family to do so in the morning before work or school and in the evening before going to bed using a thorough toothpaste such as Colgate® Fresh 'n Protect™.
For added assurance that the food you serve is safe on braces, consider making your own. Santa, snowmen, reindeer and Christmas trees may provide inspiration for making fun holiday treats:
Slice the bottom off the large end of a strawberry so that it stands upright, and cut off the top quarter. Squirt some whipped cream onto the strawberry's top flat surface, and add two chocolate sprinkles to make the eyes of Santa's face. Place the top quarter of the strawberry back onto the whipped cream to form Santa's hat, and dab some cream on the very top of the strawberry to give his hat its white bobble.
Melt some white chocolate candy coating in the microwave, and push a stiff straw or wooden skewer through three marshmallows for the three parts of the snowman's body. Dip the marshmallows in the candy coating, and before it sets, press chocolate chips into the top marshmallow to make the snowman's eyes. Add a tiny piece of carrot for his nose – but not too big that one crunch can damage a braces bracket.
Cut strips of yellow bell pepper to the shape of antlers with a sharp knife, and push them into the wide end of a soft cheese triangle. Use two pieces of olive to make the reindeer's eyes, and half a cherry tomato to make Rudolph's nose.
Christmas Tree Brownie Lollipops
Not every lollipop needs to be hard or sticky. Cut brownies into triangles, and decorate them with lines of frosting for tinsel and sprinkles for baubles. Push a brightly colored, stiff straw into one edge of the triangle, as far as it will go without poking out the other side. Snip off the end of the straw to form your lollipop stick.
Sometimes it's hard for kids to understand why they have to endure the fuss and bother of wearing braces, and it can be especially difficult during the holiday season when they can't eat the same treats their friends enjoy. By offering your child enticing alternatives, he or she can have just as much fun as everyone else while benefiting from the long-term bonus of beautifully straight, pearly white teeth.