Eating with braces can be tricky. The irony of braces is that they help and hurt your teeth at the same time: They help because they correct serious alignment issues, but they also hurt because they make it a little harder to practice your oral health routine. Brushing and flossing are more difficult, and you need to be more conscious of what you eat and drink. There are certain foods you can eat with braces, and certain foods to avoid with braces — and it helps to know which is which.
So, if a trip to the orthodontist is in your future, you might consider a few changes towards a “braces friendly” diet.
Ask the Orthodontist: What Are Some Foods to Avoid with Braces?
Foods to Avoid with Braces
There are some foods that are not off-limits per se, but that you should either avoid or be careful eating. For example:
- Other Hard Foods (Besides Candy) – This includes everything from harder types bread like pizza crust, to nuts, to vegetables like raw carrots. Since they require so much force to bite through, they can damage your wires and brackets. Cook raw vegetables so they are soft. If you must eat a hard bread, consider softening it with broth or sauce.
- Tough Meats – Snacks like beef jerky can loosen the wires and brackets of your braces. The same can happen with poorly cooked beef or pork, so be careful when consuming these meats.
- Ice – Ice in your drink is OK, even sucking on ice chips. But DO NOT bite or chew ice; This is probably the most common culprit when it comes to damaged braces.
Remember, it only takes one bad bite to damage your braces and compromise your orthodontic treatment. Would the cost of repairing those braces be worth one snack?
You Should Probably Eliminate This From Your Diet
There are some foods that are outright no-no’s when you have braces:
- Hard Candy – Not only is the sugar bad for your teeth and braces, but you’ll be tempted to chew the treat, which might ruin your brackets or wires.
- Sticky Foods – Sticky foods will tend to get caught in your braces and make cleaning a nightmare. Gum and caramel are the worst culprits, but you should also avoid peanut butter, maple syrup, and similar items.
- Inedibles – Many people unconsciously chew on pens or bite their fingernails, both of which can damage braces.
All that said, many treats are bad for your teeth even without braces, especially when the holidays roll around. Having braces might be an opportunity to make some much-needed changes to your diet!
Foods That Are OK with Your Braces
When looking for things to eat, avoid anything that could stick to your braces or get stuck behind the wires. Many foods are OK to eat with braces. In general, you will want foods that are softer in texture, especially for that period right after having your braces tightened.
Soft foods for braces include:
- Soft Fruits – Grapefruits, nectarines, kiwi, tangerines
- Vegetables – Steam helps them soften
- Dairy Products – Yogurt and cheese are good alternatives to tough meat
- Soft Meats – Tender chicken, turkey, meatloaf, lunch meat, seafood
- Deserts – Pudding, applesauce, smoothies, ice cream
- Soft Grains – Cooked pasta, cooked rice
- Soft Breads – Tortillas, biscuits, muffins, pancakes
- Eggs – Another good alternative to tough meats, especially breakfast foods like bacon
Take it a Step Further: Strengthening Tooth Enamel
The brackets for your braces are cemented onto the surface of your teeth, which is called the enamel. The stronger your enamel, the better your braces will stick to your teeth and stay strong. Keeping the area around the brackets clean and clear of food will also help preserve your teeth and your braces.
So, consider adding the following to your “braces diet”:
- Calcium-rich foods – Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy are the obvious go-to here. But broccoli, kale, okra, and tofu are on the menu too. (Almonds have calcium, but they are a food to avoid with braces, given how hard they are.)
- Protein-rich foods – Soft meats, tofu, eggs, and beans are all good. A protein shake would also work and can make for a tasty breakfast. Avoid hard nuts and tough meat!
- Cheese – Besides being a good source of calcium, cheese can help reduce the acidity in your mouth, a prime cause of tooth decay and irritation in people with braces. Plus, most cheese is nice and soft!
- Sugar-Free Candy– Sugar-free gum is a bad idea - see sticky foods, above - but an occasional sugar-free candy can help promote saliva production, which supports the growth of positive bacteria in your mouth.
Get More Braces Advice from The Happy Tooth
Wearing braces can be hard, whether you are a kid or an adult. But protecting your teeth and eating the right kinds of foods, can make all the difference down the road.
That’s not the only tricky thing about braces, however. We understand that you might have more questions or concerns. The Happy Tooth is here to help you.
So, whether you are considering getting braces or already have them, feel free to reach out to us. We would be glad to answer your questions. Or, if you would like to speak with an orthodontic specialist in person, look up the North Carolina location nearest you.
In the meantime, you should check out our eBook, Invisalign vs Braces: When Invisalign Makes a Better Dental Treatment for You. You will find:
- About Invisalign and how it works
- The differences between Invisalign vs. braces
- Savings of up to $1,000 on your treatment