When taking care of braces or an orthodontic appliance, softer foods are recommended…especially after an appointment when your mouth may be sore. If you have to question whether you can eat something with your appliance, it is better to avoid it altogether.
Remember: Teeth move best in a healthy environment and in individuals who maintain excellent overall health. Make sure you choose a well-balanced diet.
Braces and expanders are attached to your teeth with a special orthodontic glue or cement that will withstand the normal forces of eating. However, brackets can be dislodged, wires can be bent or broken, and expanders can be loosened or pulled off, after eating certain foods.
Foods and drinks that may cause cavities should be restricted while you’re wearing braces or expanders. Sticky foods are to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. Sticky foods can get wrapped around your appliances and cause them to break or come loose.
All hard, sticky, crunchy and chewy foods can weaken the bond strength of the glue or cement for any appliance glued in your mouth. If the bond strength is weakened, time may pass between the consumption of those types of foods and when the appliance breaks or falls off. This delay can lead to confusion about what actually caused the problem.
Also, minimize sugary foods as they cause tooth decay and related problems. If food or drinks high in sugar content are to be consumed, Dr. Wazio advises having them with regular meals or at one given time of the day. High-sugar and high-acidity drinks, when mixed with saliva, create a sticky film that coats the teeth and is difficult to remove completely, even with brushing. Please make sure that careful brushing and rinsing take place immediately afterward.
Some foods are fine to enjoy, if they are cut into smaller pieces which won’t damage your braces or appliance. Between-meal snacks should be confined to foods that lack refined sugar and should be followed by brushing or vigorous rinsing.
Please do not eat hard foods, including nuts, ice, crisp taco shells, whole apples, and carrots (cut them into pieces first), hard French bread crust and rolls, spareribs, corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating) and popcorn! These foods can cause breakage of the brackets and wires. Also beware of nail-biting and pen- or pencil-chewing habits since these can damage your braces. Do not eat sticky foods like taffy, caramels, bubble gum or sticky candy of any sort. Use common sense about most foods. Excessive broken appliances due to careless eating habits may result in additional charges for repair.
Nail biting, pencil, and pen chewing, and chewing on foreign objects should also be avoided.
Foods that are appealing, but dangerous during orthodontic treatment:
- Ice: chewing ice will destroy your braces.
- Sticky food or candy of any kind (taffy, caramels, Tootsie Rolls, Gummy Bears, Now and Laters) damage appliances by bending wires and pulling cement loose.
- Hard food or candy of any kind (Jolly Ranchers, pizza crust, hard pretzels, beef jerky, Doritos, Fritos, Cornuts, raw carrots, nuts) may do damage by bending wires, loosening cement under the bands or breaking the little brackets and tubes that are attached.
- Foods high in sugar content (cake, cookies, ice cream) should be avoided whenever possible. If you do eat them, brush your teeth immediately. If it is not convenient to brush, then always rinse your mouth with clear water after eating sweet foods.
Remember, you may not discover the problem until hours or days later. Loose brackets/bands and bent/broken wires or expanders create longer treatment times and added fees. So please choose your foods wisely.
While you will have to avoid certain foods if you have orthodontic appliances, there are still plenty of healthy and delicious food options available to you. Some of the best foods to eat if you have orthodontic appliances are:
- Popcorn that does not have kernels
- Bananas, grapes, oranges, strawberries, and other fruits without pits
- Light crackers or cookies
- Mashed potatoes
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Ravioli, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and other noodle dishes
Excellent oral hygiene with an orthodontic appliance, like braces or Invisalign clear aligners, is essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. The right toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss will make it easier to perform proper orthodontic care.
It is worthwhile to check your braces or expanders regularly to make sure that nothing is bent, broken, or loose. In the event of a loose/broken wire or bracket, or a loose expander, please call the office immediately to arrange an appointment for repair.
For most situations, common sense will tell you the specific foods to avoid. If you are unsure, please ask one of our friendly and knowledgeable team members to make sure that a food in question is safe to eat.