Instead of focusing on what you can’t eat while wearing braces, focus on all the things you can eat! You can still eat many of your favorite foods – as well as maintain a healthy diet – while wearing braces, but moderation and care is key. Orthodontic appliances must be properly cared for during treatment since broken brackets will lengthen your treatment time. Here’s a short list of foods to avoid in order to eliminate the possibility of damaging your braces and extending your treatment time:
- Hard or sticky foods such as: Ice, nuts, granola, hard candies (like Jolly Ranchers)
- Sticky, chewy foods like: gum, popcorn, taffy, caramel, pizza crust, bagels, or anything that could get easily tangled in your new smile gear.
Fruits and vegetables are key to a healthy diet, so you can still eat all of them – you may just need to adjust how you eat them. For example, with apples or corn on the cob, cutting them into smaller pieces or remove kernels from the cob, then chew with your back teeth to eliminate the possibility of damage to your brackets!
There are plenty of braces-friendly food including:
- Smoothies – also great for “sore mouth” days since the cold takes the edge off discomfort
- Mashed potatoes, soft-cooked beans, – soft and easy to eat
- Bananas – soft and easy grab & go snack
- Soft seafood dishes like fresh fish without bones – fish, crab cakes, etc.
- Non-tough, soft-cooked meats without any bones – chicken, turkey, meatballs, deli slices
- Eggs, Pancakes – just go easy on the syrup!
- Pasta – just cut into bite-sized portions to avoid getting food stuck in your gear
- Non-chunky salsa or hummus & tortilla chips
- Grits, oatmeal, or cream of wheat
- Any soft bread without seeds, nuts, or pieces or whole grain. Tear off the crust if necessary
- Soft cheeses, yogurt, soup
- Applesauce, pudding, Jell-O
Soft, non-chewy foods are the best foods for braces. They are less likely to damage braces or to cause pain for sensitive teeth. All fruits and vegetables may be eaten as long as they are either cut into small pieces or steamed until they are soft and easy to bite. Even if you’re eating braces-friendly foods, you may still want to cut your food into smaller pieces to help manage pain and protect your braces and teeth from damage. Additionally, chew with your back teeth to help alleviate extra pain or sensitivity from the front teeth.
Finally, eat slowly! Especially when you first get braces or when you get your wires tightened – eat in small bites chewing with your back teeth and avoiding the foods mentioned above. Drinking plenty of water will make swallowing easier and will help to rinse away any residue that gets caught in your braces.