So, the time has come for you to start your orthodontic treatment with braces, but you’re not sure what and how to eat with braces on your teeth. Does this mean you will have to change your eating habits or give up your favorite snacks? While there will definitely be some foods you will need to completely avoid while going through your orthodontic treatment with braces, it is only temporary and totally worth it in the end. Eating foods that are safe for your appliances and preparing your food in ways that make it safe doesn’t have to be a bummer. Combining their professional dental and orthodontic experience, Dr. Carter and Dr. White, along with their skilled Smile Studio Family Dentistry and Orthodontics team, have assembled some helpful tips to keep your smile on track.
What to Eat When You First Get Braces
Whether you went with clear or conventional metal braces, the first few days after having them put in place can leave you feeling sore and uninterested in eating much. Your teeth will be more sensitive after having the brackets applied, and your gums will already begin to feel the strain of the constant force that will create your new straight smile. While it will be a struggle, ensuring you are staying hydrated and eating enough for your body to have the energy to heal is vital to the pain dissipating. Dr. White recommends you plan ahead and stock up on softer foods that are easier to chew and swallow, like:
- Mashed potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Scrambled eggs
While foods like ice cream, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and chewy bread or meats are considered to be “safe” foods to eat during orthodontic treatment with braces, you will want to avoid these in the first few days as your mouth may be more sensitive to them. If you do notice that a particular food or flavor causes more discomfort than expected, rinsing your mouth with some warm salt water can give you quick and lasting relief.
Foods to Avoid with Braces
To ensure the best possible outcome from your experience with braces, you should avoid foods that may damage the appliances, or that can be difficult to clean from on and around the braces themselves. Damaged brackets and disconnected wires won’t straighten teeth, while plaque and bacteria build-up and grow in the spaces they get lodged, causing tooth decay and gum disease, like gingivitis. Some foods to completely avoid with braces include:
- Hard candy and foods
- Sticky candy and foods
- Crunchy vegetables or fruit
A good way to judge whether you should or can eat a particular food with braces is to consider whether you could “mush” that food between your tongue and the roof of your mouth with ease. If so, it is likely safe for your appliances. Never eat meat off the bone or corn on the cob, as the biting and scraping could damage your brackets and displace wires. Instead, cut larger foods into smaller, bite-sized pieces, and be sure to use your back teeth when you chew. Cutting things like sandwiches, bread, and meat into smaller portions will help you avoid the ‘bite-and-pull’ movement that can cause discomfort on top of damaging your braces.
Another overlooked threat to be mindful of when going through orthodontic treatment with braces is sugary drinks. Soda, juice, and sports drinks contain a lot of sugar which, when mixed with saliva, creates a sticky film that coats the teeth called plaque. Brushing your teeth can remove plaque, but that becomes harder to do with braces– putting you at higher risk for tooth decay and cavities. Tap water is the best drink option for braces!
Foods Safe for Braces
Initially, the ‘DO NOT’ list can be daunting, but once you really think about it your options aren’t all that limited. Besides, when it comes to decades of sporting a stunning smile, a few months to a couple of years at most isn’t too long to sacrifice your favorite sticky or crunchy treat! There are so many great foods that you can still eat with braces that you may not even miss the others.
The American Association of Orthodontists encourages you to enjoy a variety of healthy and easy-to-chew foods during orthodontic treatment. Here are some examples from your favorite food groups:
- Cottage Cheese
- Ice Cream
Meats & Proteins
- Shredded chicken
Fruits & Vegetables
- Melon, cut in small pieces
- Mashed Potatoes
- Cooked Beans
- Steamed Vegetables
Bread & Grains
- Pancakes and Waffles
- Muffins, without nuts
- Cooked Pasta
- Cooked Rice
Once you start to list things out, your menu really starts to grow. This is a great time to try new or different foods that you may not have before starting your orthodontic treatment journey. You might end up finding some new recipes that stick with you long after your smile reveal! When in doubt, some of previous braces patients’ favorite go-to foods during their treatment were:
- Creamy Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches
- Grilled Cheese, taking the crust off can make it easier to chew
What About Candy?
You already know to avoid hard, chewy, sticky candies, which eliminates all the favorites with caramel and nuts. But what can you have when that sweet tooth starts acting up? Some sweet treats you can enjoy with braces include
- Hershey’s Chocolate bars, without caramel or nuts, of course
- Reese’s peanut butter cups
- 3 Musketeers
- Soft Cookies
Just remember, it usually isn’t the amount of sugar but the frequency of the sugar that causes the most trouble with our teeth, so be sure to floss and brush well after your sweet tooth is satisfied.
Treat your stomach and your smile with Smile Studio’s braces tips!
At Smile Studio Family Dentistry and Orthodontics, we don’t want you to spend your whole smile transformation journey frowning and hangry. Hopefully, seeing that your options are still quite vast will encourage you to try some new flavors and foods during your orthodontic treatment. And don’t worry, you’ll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time.
Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more tips for life with braces. Or, if you’re ready to get started on your stellar new smile, give us a call to schedule your FREE consultation today. Orthodontic care is only a few minutes away, no matter where you are.