Now that you’ve got braces, you’re probably wondering if your diet will have to change. Can you still have your regular Friday night pizza? And what about gum? And what kinds of food should you avoid with braces?
One alternative is to opt instead for clear braces (also called invisible aligners), which you can take out to eat and then simply put back in (after thoroughly brushing and flossing, of course!). And some clear braces can even be worn at night, making it all the easier.
For individuals with traditional braces, however, there are certain foods that are safe and others you’ll want to avoid. Keep reading to find out which.
Eating and drinking with aligners
Before we get into what foods you can eat with traditional braces, let’s take a quick look at the restrictions with invisible aligners. The first thing to know is that you must always take your aligners off before eating food, even very soft foods like cheese or white bread. Aligners aren’t designed to withstand the pressure of chewing, and you could cause damage to them if you keep them on while eating.
You should also avoid drinking anything other than water. There are two reasons for this. First, liquid (and food) can get caught in the space between the aligners and your teeth, leading to tooth decay and bad breath. Second, many of your favorite drinks, like coffee, tea, and soda, can cause discoloration of your aligners, making your teeth look yellow and defeating the purpose of buying invisible aligners in the first place.
So the bottom line is: always take out your aligners when eating or drinking anything except water. Be sure to also thoroughly brush and floss your teeth after eating, to avoid food particles getting stuck between the aligner and your teeth.
Eating food with traditional braces
Braces have brackets, bands, and archwires that can be damaged by certain foods. Avoiding sticky and hard food is a priority. Plus, good hygiene is essential to prevent cavities from forming around your braces.
If there are certain foods you couldn’t possibly give up during your treatment, you might want to look into clear aligner options like Byte or SmileDirectClub. Clear aligners are removed for eating and drinking anything other than water to avoid stains and discoloration.
While you can eat whatever you want when you’re not wearing aligners, it’s best to avoid dark-colored liquids like red wine and coffee that could stain your teeth and attachments.
The good news is that there are plenty of foods you can eat with braces. So let’s dive in and take a look.
Top 10 Foods to eat with braces
While getting braces doesn’t hurt, your mouth may feel sore in the first few days following your appointment. As a result, your dentist is likely to recommend eating soft foods for a day or so after your appointment. Smoothies and protein shakes are also ideal in the early days of wearing braces.
Here are some delicious foods you can eat without worries when wearing braces.
There’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of delicious warm soup, and soup is safe even in your first days with braces. Depending on the ingredients, soups can also contain a variety of nutrients, and have numerous health benefits too.
2. Mashed potatoes
This is another easy food for when your teeth are still sore. The humble potato has many health and nutrition benefits. Not only is it a good source of fiber, helping you stay fuller for longer, but it helps keep blood sugar levels and cholesterol in check. It’s also bursting with antioxidants and vitamins.
3. Scrambled eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein and aid healthy bones and teeth, and, most importantly, they’re soft and easy to eat with braces.
Yes, you can still enjoy pizza with braces. But it all boils down to the type of pizza. It’s best to opt for soft-crust pizza and avoid chunky, tough toppings. Why not mention to your local pizza parlor that you’ll soon be getting braces and that you will need softer crusts for a while? Veggie toppings should be fine, but pepperoni can be a challenge, particularly when it’s overcooked.
Cooked pasta, rice, and noodles are all suitable soft foods to eat with braces. Grain also happens to be one of the basic food groups to include in a healthy diet, and whole grain is a good source of energy and fiber too.
6. Soft meats and chicken
The carnivores amongst you will be pleased to know there’s no need to go without meat when you have braces. You can tuck into barbecued, roasted, and deli-sliced meats, provided they aren't too chewy. However, do your braces a favor and leave the crackling on the side of the plate.
7. Cooked veggies
It’s fine to eat most cooked vegetables straight off your fork, so, no, you can’t use your braces as an excuse to avoid brussels sprouts! Vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories (good for the waistline) and are an important source of vitamins A and C, dietary fiber, and nutrients such as potassium.
8. Soft fruit
Eating fruit can be a challenge with braces, which is why dentists recommend cutting hard fruits like apples and pears into small bite-sized pieces. That way you can chew them with your back teeth and avoid your braces altogether. Fruits like raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are best to eat with braces, especially when your wires have just been changed and your teeth feel tender.
Most seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and crab, is naturally soft and easy on your braces. Be mindful of bones when eating whole fish and shells when eating shellfish. Sushi is also a good choice of food to eat with braces.
Cheese lovers can breathe a sigh of relief. Cheese hasn't been taken off the menu. That said, it’s best to choose soft cheeses (including brie, cottage cheese, mozzarella), or thinly sliced cheddar.
Top 10 Foods to avoid with braces
While a braces diet doesn’t have to be boring and bland, it’s best to steer clear of hard and sticky food—putting these in your mouth could result in loose brackets and broken wires, which may delay treatment and increase costs.
There are also a few foods you should avoid immediately after getting braces. Some “safe” foods could irritate the mouth, causing pressure and sensitivity. These foods can be introduced once your teeth have adjusted to your braces, and they include the following.
- Spicy foods
- Ice cream
- Citrus foods
- Hard rolls or bread
- Thicker cuts of meat
Now, we’ll move on to a list of foods to avoid the whole time you have your braces.
1. Chewing gum
If you have wire braces, it's best to avoid gum. Gum could pull your brackets off, and if it gets stuck, you may end up bending the wires as you try to untangle the mess.
Who doesn’t love to grab a handful of delicious buttery popcorn? Unfortunately, this tasty snack is off-limits while you’re wearing braces. The biggest reason to avoid popcorn with braces comes down to the hulls. Not only does popcorn harm your teeth and scrape your gums, it can also break your braces.
Some of us just can’t resist crunching on the ice left in our glasses when we finish a drink. But don’t do this with your braces, as the first sound you’ll hear is the crack of damaged braces. This may significantly lengthen the time tooth realignment takes.
Cashews, pistachios, peanuts, almonds, walnuts—not only are they hard, but they can get stuck around your braces. Given the relatively small size of nuts, there’s every possibility of a broken wire or bracket if you choose to chow down on these.
5. Hard or chewy candy
Sadly, most candies are going to be off-limits when wearing braces. Not only is the added sugar bad for your oral health, but popular candies like Gummy Bears and Laffy Taffy can potentially stick to fragile braces and even pull them off your teeth.
6. Hard rolls or bagels
Chewy bread like this can become trapped in your braces, loosening the brackets and wires. If you simply have to eat a bagel, then break it into smaller pieces so you can chew it with your back teeth.
7. Corn on the cob
We’re not saying you can’t eat corn, but you must cut it off the cob first. Eating corn straight off the cob could damage your wire braces.
8. Raw vegetables
While most of us enjoy a tray of mixed veggies from time to time, raw, hard vegetables can spell disaster for braces. Raw broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower are healthy to eat but not healthy for your braces. If you enjoy eating lots of veggies, then make sure you boil or steam them first or use them in other dishes like casseroles and curries to soften them up.
9. Meat on the bone
Avoid eating meat that contains bones. This includes those finger-licking chicken wings and sticky ribs and thighs. The good news—you can remove most of the meat from the bones to eat it.
10. Pretzels, hard crackers, and chips
While you’re wearing braces, it’s best to stay away from these snacks. As an alternative to hard taco shells, you could try soft tortillas instead.
Getting braces may not sound like fun, but they can give you your dream smile and boost your confidence. However, if you eat the wrong foods and fail to maintain good oral hygiene, you run the risk of damaging both your braces and teeth. Avoid hard foods like crackers, raw veggies, bone-in meats, nuts, and ice, and definitely stay away from sticky and problematic foods like popcorn, sticky candy, and gum!
It can be frustrating learning what foods you can eat with braces and what foods to avoid, but in the long run, the results are well worth it. Plus, you can still chow down on delicious foods such as soft cheese, soup, pizza, and cooked meats and veggies while you’re on the way to getting your dream smile.