Halloween can be treacherous for the teeth, especially for tweens wired with braces.
"This time of year is a busy time," said Dr. Judson Knight, a partner in Knight, Wahle and Chalothorn Orthodontists, which has several offices in Central Kentucky.
Every kid who has had braces has received "the tooth talk" from the orthodontist that includes a list of things to absolutely, positively avoid. And every parent of a kid with braces knows that the effectiveness of such talk varies widely from potential bite to potential bite.
This time of year offers plenty of extra temptation, Knight said.
"You can't realistically expect them not to eat some candy," he said.
To that end, the American Association of Orthodontists has declared October National Orthodontic Health Month. There's a Web site, Braces.org, with a slew of tips for surviving trick or treat.
The "don't" list includes anything that can break a bracket or pull a wire out of a tube. So if it is hard, sticky or chewy, don't put it in your mouth.
Knight calls it common sense.
But the average age range of folks with braces is 9 to 14, so sense might not be all that common.
Braces wearers will often fool themselves into thinking they'll just suck on a candy bar or a jaw breaker, but that's not likely to happen, Knight said. At some point, it's a natural instinct to take a bite.
And, he said, "that crunch is what is going to get you."
Knight recommends going through your kids' Halloween haul to weed out the offending treats. When his children had braces, he gave them three days to work through what was left, and he threw the rest away.
If caution is not heeded and a wire pokes out or bracket pops loose, call the orthodontist to see whether it needs immediate attention or can be tended with a little wax until the next scheduled office visit.
And here is a message from Knight that might nudge those in braces to be a little more thoughtful about what they eat: If you knock something off or something comes loose, you might have to keep the braces on even longer.