Braces can definitely be a pain – literally. All those wires and pieces of metal in your mouth, just pushing away at your teeth, can cause some major soreness. Even worse is when food gets stuck in your braces, or actually damages the wires in such a way that you have one poking the inside of your mouth. It’s also more difficult to brush and floss with braces, but the end result is worth all the trouble.
We have broken down for you the foods you should avoid with braces and those that just require a little extra attention when eating. We want you to keep loving life while you’re working on that winning smile!
Foods and Drinks to Avoid Entirely
Chewy and sticky foods are pretty much the worst for your braces, as are things that are super crunchy. It may be hard to avoid these goodies at first, but just remember that every time you break a wire you’ll be back at the orthodontist for repairs. And, it’ll be that much longer until you are finally done with braces for good.
Chewy candy, taffy, and caramel
Treats like these can actually engulf your brackets and cause them to pull away from the teeth. Another bad side effect of having sugary candy lodged under your braces is that it will slowly decay your teeth. The last thing you want when the braces finally come off is a bunch of cavities.
Gum can get so enmeshed in the wires of your braces that it never comes out. Since gum is made not to dissolve in saliva, bits of it will sit there until you’re able to pull it all out, strand by strand. It’s not worth the hassle.
Popcorn can be hard to eat even for people without braces. The hulls get stuck between teeth regardless, but when you add braces to the mix, it can get dangerous. Hulls can lodge deeply between teeth in a way that is next to impossible to get out with braces in the way. This is painful and can cause infection after awhile.
Nuts, seeds, and chunky peanut butter
When you bite into something especially hard with braces on, it pushes the wires out of alignment. That’ll send you to the orthodontist for an adjustment. Nuts and seeds also often have hulls that can get stuck right where you don’t want them to be.
Jerky is tough to tear into and chew, so it can definitely damage braces. The fibers in jerky are also notorious for wrapping around wires and getting lodged between teeth. If you just gotta have some, try this recipe for Shredded Jerky Jumbles.
Soda, sports drinks, and fruit juice
Beverages like this are really high in both sugar and acid. Drink them regularly with braces and you will end up with decay under your brackets. Don’t ruin your new smile before you can even enjoy it!
This is not something you actually swallow, but if you bite your fingernails or chew on things like pen caps, it can really damage your braces. It’s important to try and break the habit while your teeth are undergoing treatment.
Corn on the cob, carrots, and apples
It is not recommended you that bite into anything with your front teeth while you have braces on. It loosens those front brackets and can bend the wires. So corn that’s on the cob should be cut off before digging in. Same with apples and carrots – cut them up to enjoy them safely.
This is an okay indulgence every once in awhile. Too much will lead to tooth decay, but if you suck on the candy rather than chew it, it’s a good choice for a treat. If you’ve got to give up gooey candy, there has to be some compromise!
All you’ve got to do is pour a glass of milk and dip your cookies before eating. Voila – a totally braces-safe snack. Of course, like all sugary foods, cookies are best enjoyed in moderation.
Pizza crust, bagels, and soft pretzels
Bread like this can be tough to chew, so rather than bite right in, cut it into smaller pieces and chew carefully. You’ll need to get in the habit of helping your teeth avoid heavy duty work by using a knife to portion things into bite sized pieces.
Burgers are generally okay to eat, but can be tough on braces if they’re stacked high with toppings. For especially tall burgers (and sandwiches) it is best to cut them into smaller pieces rather than bite right in with your front teeth. Your friends might make fun of you for eating your burgers this way, but just ignore them!
Meat on the bone
If you are a fan of chicken, ribs, or lamb on the bone, it is wise to cut the meat off before eating when you have braces. Accidentally biting into a bone can scrape at them causing brackets to loosen and wires to bend.
Sorry, ice chewers. You’ll need to try and break that habit when while you’re wearing braces to avoid damaging them. However, it can feel good to suck on ice when your gums are sore after an adjustment.
Today’s braces are stronger and more durable than ever, but you still need to be careful with them. Think of it in terms of a short term sacrifice for long term gain. You may even feel healthier once you cut candy and soda from your diet, and want to keep it up even after the braces come off. But if not, at least you will have a beautiful, straight set of white teeth to show off!