How to Eat with Braces
It is a common misconception that an individual’s diet must change drastically after getting braces. While eating with braces requires special considerations, patients can typically continue to enjoy the foods they normally eat. The American Association of Orthodontists and orthodontic specialists advise certain tips for how to eat with braces, as well as certain foods which are best to avoid. Patients who follow these recommendations are less likely to experience issues such as breaking of a bracket.
Foods to Avoid with Braces
Orthodontic specialists recommend that patients avoid certain foods during braces treatment. These foods include exceptionally hard or sticky foods that may dislodge brackets, bend wires, or otherwise interfere with the placement of braces. Foods to avoid with braces also include foods that can easily get lodged in brackets, such as popcorn kernels. Lodged foods may be difficult to clean out, which may contribute to greater risk of food buildup, plaque formation, and oral disease.
Foods to avoid with braces may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Gum and ice
- Hard candy
- Beef jerky
- Sticky, chewy candy like taffy and gummy bears
- Anything that can get caught, like popcorn
Special Eating Considerations
There are certain foods which should be eaten with caution and special consideration. Food that is exceptionally crunchy or chewy should be sliced or broken into smaller pieces and chewed with the back teeth to facilitate the eating process. By eating these foods in smaller pieces, patients are reducing the risk of damaging braces that is associated with biting into them. Smaller bites also allow patients to generally decrease the food’s contact with braces and therefore reduce the chances of damage.
Harder foods that should be cut up may include:
- Chew breads such as pizza crust and bagels
- Crunchy fruits such as apples
- Crunchy vegetables such as carrots
- Difficult foods to eat, such as corn on the cob and ribs
Soft Food for Braces
There are several types of soft food for braces that patients are recommended to eat more frequently than harder “problem” foods. Soft foods also provide greater comfort when eating with braces, especially immediately after the braces are applied or tightened. During these periods, patients may experience more pain and discomfort than usual.
Soft foods for braces include, but are not limited to:
- Soups and stews
- Pasta and cooked grains such as rice and quinoa
- Soft vegetables and legumes, such as beans
- Nutritious drinks, such as smoothies and protein shakes
- Mashed potatoes and casseroles
- Softer breakfast foods such as French toast and eggs
- Dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese
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