Eating with Braces — What to Enjoy and What to Avoid
Eating with braces can be fun once you know the rules. Are you new to braces? Congratulations! You will someday have a beautiful new smile. But for a while, you will have to be careful about the types of foods you eat. If you eat the wrong foods or forget to take good care of your teeth, you could do real damage that stays with you for a lifetime. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen by learning how to treat our new orthodontic appliance right from the beginning.
Dr. Larson or Dr. Fitzgerald have probably already told you what foods you can eat and what foods to avoid but we put them all here so you can easily find them. If you have any questions, please ask. Damaging your braces can mean wearing braces for a much longer period of time. We know you don’t want to do that.
Getting Used to Your New Braces
Getting braces is an exciting time but adjusting to the changes can be difficult. Braces are only effective when you care for them properly. This means avoiding some types of food until your treatment is completed. Doing so will not only make your treatment go faster, but it can also make your braces hurt less. The first week after an adjustment can be a bit uncomfortable. Here are some softer foods that might be good when you first start wearing braces but also after adjustment days.
- Yogurt is an excellent option that requires little to no chewing depending on the type. It is an excellent source of nutrition but has higher sugar content.
- Chicken Noodle Soup is a great option to help heal the mouth after getting braces. Plus, its warmth has soothing qualities and it is chock full of vitamins and minerals.
- Ice Cream can provide relief without damage but make sure your kids are not overindulging. Ice cream will numb the pain and relieve inflammation. Make it healthy with frozen alternatives, low sugar options, or make your own!
- Mashed Potatoes are great for growing teens with appetites that are not easily satisfied. They are filling and will not damage teeth. Plus, they can be served in a variety of ways.
- Mac and Cheese is similar in that it offers variety and is substantial. One advantage over mashed potatoes is that it offers more protein. Both are calorie-dense which may be a consideration for adults but for teens and pre-teens, the calories are usually not an issue for the short duration.
- Pancakes are great any time of the day, and even for a treat. They are filling and easy to eat. Try adding bananas to pancakes for a different treat. Whipped cream or applesauce are also fun. Have fun with your pancakes but be sure not to add any nuts, seeds, or chewy items. If you do add fruit, cut it into very small pieces or parboil it first for new braces. You can also use jams or fresh fruit pureed in the blender.
- Eggs are also good to eat at any time of the day. For new wearers of braces, scrambled eggs are best because they require the least movement of the jaw to eat them. Soft scrambles are best. If your child likes cheese, make it a soft cheesy scramble but don’t use stringy cheeses. These will require too much chewing.
- Cooked Veggies are perfect for new braces as long as they are the kind that goes soft when cooked. Think about vegetables like squash, broccoli, and carrots. For now, forget about salads, raw vegetables, and corn.
- Fish is fine for new wearers of braces as long as it is flaky and moist. Avoid crunchy breaded fish for now. Fresh cod or salmon are good options. Most other meats will be too hard to chew at this stage.
- Bananas are the easiest of all the fruits to eat when you have new braces. And they are so easy to grab and take along with you to school or work. Plus, the nutrition in a banana is excellent.
Everyday Foods That are Good for Eating with Braces
So now you are over the adjustment period and want to get as normal as possible. As a general rule, if it is hard or sticky, avoid it. But we will talk about those foods next. Let’s focus first on all the good things you can eat!
- Dairy — yogurt, cheese, eggs, pudding, milk-based drinks, ice cream, butter, sour cream, cream cheese
- Breads and Grains — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts, pasta, soft rice, cold cereals that get limp in milk (no granola), hot cereals, macaroni and cheese
- Meats/poultry — soft-cooked and shredded chicken, meatballs, lunch meat, meatloaf, hamburger sliders, bite-size hot dogs, tender meats cut to bite-size,
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes, cod, sushi
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, steamed spinach, beans, squash, chopped raw vegetables, chopped salads
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, chopped raw fruits, blended raw fruits, fruit smoothies
- Snacks — ice cream, chocolate (no nuts or caramel M&M’s, Kisses, 3 Musketeers, Kit Kat, Reese’s Cup, Reeses Pieces, Nestle Crunch), marshmallows, cakes (birthday, Twinkies, Snow Balls, Ding Dongs, Zingers), Jell-O or pudding, soft cookies and crackers (beware of crunchy ones), Pirate’s Booty (popcorn substitute), soft pretzels
- Other items: sandwiches cut to bite-size, pizza cut to bite-size (but not the crust), burritos, soup
The Foods You Should Avoid When Eating with Braces
Hang in there! It may seem like forever but you’ll soon be eating everything you want once again. For now, the popcorn and potato chips will have to wait. Otherwise, you could do damage to your new appliances.
In a nutshell, so to speak, the foods you should avoid are pretty simple to remember.
- Chewy foods. This includes pizza crust, bagels, jerky, steak, any meat on the bone like chicken wings and turkey legs, licorice, Starburst, and Skittles.
- Crunchy foods. Some examples are popcorn, chips, ice, toffee, Jolly Ranchers, peppermints, Corn Nuts, wasabi peas, melba toast, Grape Nuts cereal, pretzels, almonds, pita chips, biscotti, and Captain Crunch.
- Sticky foods. These include caramel candies, chewing gum, Sugar Daddies, taffy, and Tootsie Rolls.
- Hard foods. These can include croutons, hard rolls, ice, hard candies, and thin-crust pizza.
- Foods that require biting into. Some good examples are corn on the cob, apples, carrots, subs, hard bread, and whole items that require you to take a bite out of it.
Oops! What if a Bracket or Wire Comes Loose?
Sometimes brackets or wires on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact Sky Ortho as soon as possible so that we can check and repair it. If any part of your braces comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office when you come in.
You can temporarily fix a pokey wire by using the eraser end of a pencil. If the wire is loose, carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose or pokey wire is still causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the end of the wire to relieve the pain.