Food Strategies with Braces

Food Basics

The great thing about braces is that they are bonded to your teeth, so you don’t have to worry about taking them out and putting them back in for meals.  The not-so-great thing about braces is that they are bonded to your teeth, which means they are in your mouth for EVERY SINGLE MEAL.  So you’ll have to keep a few things in mind to avoid damaging them.  Broken braces can prolong your treatment and result in “repair” visits—and while we’re always glad to see you, you may have other things you want to do!  Back by popular demand, here is our page of tips on foods and habits to avoid with braces.

Here are the four big changes you’ll want to make in order to achieve the most efficient, effective outcome with your braces:

  1. Avoid hard foods
  2. Avoid sticky foods
  3. Cut your bite portions into smaller pieces
  4. Limit high-sugar content food and drinks

Why do you need to avoid hard foods?

Hard foods can bend your wires, loosen the cement under your bands or break the brackets that are bonded to the teeth.  Our most common Hard Food Offenders are:

  • Ice
  • Corn chips
  • Hard pizza crust
  • Hard breads (bagels, French bread, hard rolls)
  • Hard candy (Jolly Ranchers, etc.)
  • Hard nuts (filberts, brazil nuts, etc.)
  • Lollipops (Tootsie Roll Pops, etc.)
  • Peppermint sticks/candy canes
  • Lifesavers
  • Popcorn kernels (partially popped or un-popped)
  • Large pretzels

Why do you need to avoid sticky foods?

Sticky foods can damage orthodontic appliances in the same way hard foods can, but they can also quite literally pull the bands, braces and appliances off the teeth.  Our most common Sticky Food Offenders are:

  • Gum (especially bubble gum)
  • Jellybeans
  • Caramels
  • Now and Later candy
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Starburst
  • Licorice
  • Taffy
  • Skittles
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Peanut Brittle
  • Candy Apples

There are also a few unusual biting or chewing habits that you’ll want to stop.

Don’t chew…

  • Fingernails
  • Ball point pens
  • Pencils
  • Also, don’t use your teeth as a tool (opening packages, bottles or wire stripping)—with or without braces!

Having braces doesn’t mean you can’t eat ANY of your favorite foods, though.

Here are a few tips on how to keep enjoying your favorite foods:

  • Celery and carrots: Cut into thinner pieces
  • Apples: Cut into smaller bite portions
  • Corn on the cob: Remove from the cob
  • Ribs and chicken: Remove the meat from the bone
  • Cereals: Choose brands without nuts or hard pieces
  • Fruits: Enjoy more of them!  (Strawberries, kiwi, and sliced bananas are great!)

Food habits can be difficult to change, especially during the first few days of treatment.  But keep at it!  The earlier you make these changes, the easier your experience will be, and the faster you’ll be able to complete your orthodontic treatment and get back to all of your favorite foods.  And remember, if all of these changes sound like too much to stomach, you can always ask us if you’re a candidate for treatment with a clear aligner system like Invisalign®.  If you are, then you’ll be free to eat whatever you’d like, so long as you take out your aligners first!

We’re always happy to give you more tips and tricks on adapting to the orthodontic lifestyle, so feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or need any advice!

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