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Good News for Trick-or-Treaters With Braces: Renowned Chef to the Rescue With Braces-Friendly Treats

Celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello and The American Association of Orthodontists team up to provide braces-friendly Halloween tips, treats and


ST. LOUIS, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- If you wear braces, there's nothing to be afraid of: Halloween can still be a sweet experience. Celebrity chef and author Michael Chiarello, of Food Network's "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello" and Fine Living Network's "NapaStyle," has teamed up with the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) to provide braces-friendly Halloween recipes for the more than five million children and adults in North America who currently wear braces.

Halloween tends to be one of the busiest times of the year at orthodontists' offices, primarily because patients eat treats that they should not be eating. Candies and other treats that are hard, chewy, sticky or crunchy can cause damage to orthodontic patients' braces. Broken braces can be uncomfortable for the patient and may even prolong treatment. As part of October's National Orthodontic Health Month, Chiarello and the AAO are providing braces-friendly Halloween recipes and tips to help orthodontic patients and parents enjoy the holiday.

"My family and I love to create special meals together, but when my daughter recently got braces, we had to modify some of our favorite recipes," says Chiarello. The braces-friendly recipes we've come up with -- like Green Goo Slimedoo and Black and Orange Bon Bons -- allow my daughter to enjoy the holiday without causing harm to her braces. Plus, they are fun to make together."

"Eating food that could harm a patient's braces may affect treatment length and results, just as if they were not tending to oral hygiene or wearing their rubber bands," says Raymond George, Sr., DMD, an orthodontist and president of the AAO. "If orthodontic patients are careful about the Halloween treats they eat, they can keep their braces intact and should be able to finish treatment on time and with good results."

What kind of Halloween treats can/can't orthodontic patients have?

The good news is that there are plenty of food options for orthodontic patients. And with a little diligence and creativity, orthodontic patients can still enjoy Halloween treats. In general, orthodontic patients should look for softer treats, such as soft chocolate or peanut butter cups, or melt-in-your- mouth foods.

Any foods that are sticky, chewy, hard or crunchy should be avoided by anyone wearing braces or retainers. To help provide guidelines for orthodontic patients, the AAO recommends patients steer clear of the following Halloween treats, or recipes with these ingredients:

-- All hard candies

-- All chewy candies

-- Caramel

-- Nuts

-- Licorice

-- Taffy

-- Jelly beans

-- Hard pretzels

-- Bubblegum

-- Popcorn (including unpopped kernels)

-- Taco chips

-- Ice

Is it okay for orthodontic patients to eat sweets?

A few sweets can be okay occasionally, provided that the patient remembers to brush and floss after eating. Patients wearing braces need to pay special attention to keeping braces, teeth and gums clean during orthodontic treatment. When braces are placed on patients, orthodontists instruct them in maintaining good oral hygiene. Generally, orthodontists advise patients on how often to brush and to floss every day between teeth, around brackets and at the gumline. Floss threaders help patients maneuver dental floss between archwires and teeth.

"By following their orthodontist's guidance on dental hygiene and avoiding certain foods for the relatively short duration of orthodontic treatment, patients will be on track to a lifetime of healthy teeth and a beautiful smile," says Dr. George.

What should orthodontic patients do if food damages their braces?

If a patient chews on the wrong type of treat and damage occurs, they should call their orthodontist so that arrangements can be made to correct the problem. "Typically, small problems can be solved over the phone. Loose brackets or wires can usually be made more comfortable by applying some orthodontic wax until the patient can come into the office," says Dr. George.

Additionally, if a problem arises, orthodontic patients and/or their parents can visit and go to "Want to know more?" and click on "What If Something Breaks?" for information on how to handle the most common problems with braces, as well as a list of supplies that can help keep orthodontic patients prepared for potential problems.

National Orthodontic Health Month

October marks National Orthodontic Health Month (NOHM), the AAO's coast-to-coast oral health education program. In honor of NOHM and as part of its commitment to education, the AAO is providing recipes and tips to patients and parents on what treats can be enjoyed while wearing braces. These recipes and tips are available online at the AAO's Web site,

Why straighten teeth?

Straight teeth help an individual to effectively bite, chew and speak and are less likely to decay. People with straight teeth tend to have a lower risk of gum disease or bone loss around the teeth. In addition to the physical benefits brought about by orthodontic treatment, well-aligned teeth and jaws look good. This can contribute to an individual's sense of well-being and self-esteem.

Treatment by an orthodontist now may be less costly than dental treatment later to save teeth. Orthodontic treatment is the path to a healthy, beautiful smile that's good for life.

Dollar for dollar, orthodontic treatment is one of the best values in healthcare today.

About the AAO

The AAO comprises 15,500 members in the United States, Canada and abroad. Founded in 1900, the AAO supports research and education leading to quality patient care and promotes increased public awareness of the need for and benefits of orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists are uniquely qualified to correct improperly aligned teeth and jaws. They are specialists in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists receive two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. Only those with this education may call themselves "orthodontists," and only orthodontists may be members of the AAO.

To locate nearby orthodontists, visit the "Find an Orthodontist" service at

Aimee DeVoll, 314-552-6744

Pam Paladin, 314-993-1700, ext. 524

SOURCE American Association of Orthodontists
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