Most foods can be eaten as usual during orthodontic treatment, but there are some that can damage dental braces and retainers. Here are some tips on the food you can eat with braces and which ones to avoid.
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Certain foods are known to bend or break wires or pop of your brackets. Other food and drinks are known to stain your teeth and leave outlines where the brackets once were. So if you want your braces off as soon as possible and you want your teeth to have the best shot at looking amazing once your orthodontic treatment is done, it’s time we talk about eating, drinking, and taking care of your smile!
Foods to Avoid with Braces
1. Hard Candy – A quick way to break a bracket (or 3!) is to bite down on hard candies like Jolly Ranchers and Lolly Pops.
2. Sticky Foods + Candy – Likewise, candies that are super soft and chewy, like Caramel, Licorice, Milk Duds, or Taffy, can get stuck in your teeth, break your brackets, and can be hard to brush off, leaving you more susceptible to cavities.
3. Popcorn – Popcorn kernels that typically come clean with regular flossing and brushing can become a huge problem when you add braces to the equation. Kernels that get stuck in the gums of a patient with braces often go untreated. This can lead to painful swelling of the gum tissue, which has to be treated, cleaned out, and taken care of by a professional.
4. Hard Nuts, Fruits and Vegetables – Even healthy foods like apples, corn on the cob, and carrots should be avoided UNLESS you can cut them into pieces and not bite them with your front teeth.
5. Gum with Sugar – Not only does sugary gum cause cavities, but it can also get stuck on wires and brackets and dislodge them from their proper placement.
6. Ice Cubes – Chewing on ice is not good for anyone, really, but it’s even worse if you’re wearing braces.
7. Beef Jerky + Tough Meat – This was my son’s hardest treat to give up! He LOVES beef jerky! But even small pieces broken off by hand require a lot of hard chewing, and that’s not good when you have a mouth full of wires!
8. Soda – Avoid sodas and other fizzy drinks as they can stain and damage your teeth.
9. Coffee + Tea – Because of their dark pigments, they can stain both the brackets of your braces AND your teeth as well. These stains can lead to tooth decay, so it’s best to limit your intake or avoid them altogether.
10. Tumeric + Curry + Yellow Mustard – Steer clear of this yellow spice and the food it flavors if you have clear braces or Invisalign aligners as it will absolutely stain them. This was what my orthodontist warned me about when I had clear braces 25 years ago, and it looks like the recommendation is still valid today.
HONORABLE MENTIONS – Be careful with these foods, as they could result in a broken wire:
- chicken wings
- ribs on the bone
- pizza crust
Foods to Eat With Braces
Getting braces on and then getting them tightened and adjusted can cause discomfort in your mouth and disruption in your diet. When your teeth and gums are sore, it is best to eat SOFT meals and snacks that can be eaten in small pieces. Here are some ideas of things to eat when your mouth is sore –
Soft Foods for Breakfast
- Eggs – Scrambled or Hard Boiled
- Bagels or English Muffins with eggs and a soft cheese
- Smoothie Bowl
- Blueberry Muffins
Soft Foods for Lunch + Dinner
- Sandwiches with soft bread
- Mashed Potatoes
- Mac N’ Cheese
- Roasted Veggies
- Tuna Salad
- Fish Fillets
- Pasta – Ravioli, Spaghetti Squash
- Rice + Risotto
Soft Foods for Snacks
- Ice Cream
- Cottage Cheese
- Soft Fruits – Avocado, Bananas, Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Grapes, Peaches, etc.
To help remind you which foods are good and which foods are bad for braces, download our free printable and keep it on hand so you have it handy whenever hunger strikes!
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