Getting braces soon? Or just got them on? If so, you might have concerns about what foods you can eat with braces. It's great to start thinking about this, as choosing the right foods will indeed be an important aspect of your orthodontic journey.
The great news is there are plenty of great options to choose from - and with a bit of care, you can still enjoy most of your favourite foods! There is a short list of items you should definitely avoid altogether, however most people would agree that it's totally worth it, when the end result is a fabulous new smile!
There are three main reasons why being mindful about what you eat (and how you eat it!) will be important to ensure that your orthodontic treatment is as smooth and successful as possible:
1. To Maximise your Comfort:
During the early days (and perhaps to a lesser extent, after adjustment appointments), making modifications to your diet is advisable to ensure that your food choices don't put unnecessary pressure on tender teeth.
2. To Support Good Oral Hygiene:
It is a little harder to clean around brackets, wires and bands. You'll have new hiding places for sweet treats which may elude your toothbrush! Your cleaning routine is incredibly important, but making healthy food choices also reduces the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
3. To Avoid Damaging your Braces:
Braces are firmly attached to your teeth, but as they do need to be removed at the end of your orthodontic treatment, there are limits to how securely they can be attached! You may also be surprised to learn how powerful your jaws can be, and the forces generated by your bite can be substantial.
For this reason, certain food choices are associated with an increased risk of damage to your braces. In particular, excessively hard and sticky foods tend to cause issues. Biting down on hard foods can knock components off, or cause the wires to bend. Chewing on excessively sticky foods can dislodge parts of your braces.
The Early Days
Immediately following braces placement, you're likely to experience some degree of tooth tenderness. This tends to be worse upon biting down. For this reason, you'll tend to turn automatically towards softer foods.
To ensure that you have plenty of good options available in order to maintain a healthy diet during this time, planning ahead is essential to ensure that you have suitable options on hand.
Some examples of ideal foods for the early days include:
Vegetables (e.g., boiled or steamed spinach, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes and pumpkin, soups)
Soft fruits (e.g., ripe bananas, stewed fruit, applesauce)
Oatmeal, softened warm cereals (e.g., Weetbix) and milk
Soft cooked rice
Soft meats (e.g., lamb, chicken or beef stews, curries, tender pieces of fish)
Scrambled or soft-boiled eggs
Dairy and milk-based foods and drinks (e.g., cottage cheese, other soft cheeses, custard, yoghurt, smoothies)
Committing to Braces-Friendly Foods
So, your braces have been on for a week or so, and you're feeling much more like your normal self. Once initial tenderness eases, and that 'strange' feeling of something new in your mouth has passed, your confidence is likely to be increasing, and you might be feeling tempted to resume your usual diet. Great right? Not entirely!
It's now time to review any instructions your orthodontist gave you, and be sure that you take care to continue to limit your eating to braces-friendly foods.
Prioritising a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Braces really are intended to fit into your lifestyle, not the other way around. We do want you to keep eating a healthy diet, and not be too restricted. It's worth keeping in mind also that nutrition plays an important role in your orthodontic treatment. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins will support the structural changes occurring in your mouth.
Raw fruits and vegetables are often too hard and crunchy for braces, but we definitely do not want you to skip these vital food groups.
With a little creativity, you can prepare them in a braces-friendly manner that still delivers the nutritional punch your body needs.
Here’s some ideas of how to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables without risking damage to your braces:
Soften vegetables by steaming or roasting them until they are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork.
Create smoothies or pureed soups with fruits and vegetables to enjoy their flavours without the risk of them damaging your braces.
Ideally, thinly slice fruits like apples or pears, or grate carrots, making them more manageable to eat.
At the very least, cut hard fruits (like apples) and raw veggies (like carrots) into bite-sized pieces and chew them on your back teeth. Never bite into them with your front teeth during braces treatment!
Getting braces can be a great time to discover a new favourite food or two! Here are some ideas to inspire you:
Avocado-Based Salads: Creamy and full of healthy fats.
Berries: Soft and easy to chew, especially when ripe.
Peaches: Juicy and gentle when eaten without the skin.
Creamed corn: It doesn't have to be from a can - check out online recipes for added flavour!
Smoothies: The sky is the limit, try different juices, dairy, veggie and other combinations.
Braces-Friendly Breads: Choose soft bread that lacks a hard crust, such as sandwich loaves, to avoid unnecessary pressure on your braces.
Pasta-Based Meals: Cooked until soft, pastas can be a delicious base for meals that are gentle on your mouth.
Rice-Based Meals: A lot of 'one pan' rice-based dinners and risottos are fabulous for braces-wearers. Well-cooked rice dishes offer a comforting texture that's easy to consume.
Beans and Lentils: Cooked to a soft consistency for a high-fibre, high protein meal. Can be delicious as part of a curry or stew!
Creative Ways to Soften Meat: Tired of cutting your steak into small pieces? Find your inner chef and experiment with slow-cooked meat, shredded or pulled meats, minced meat, meatloaf or meatballs.
Sneak in Extra Nutrients with Sauces, Spreads and Dips: Think smooth peanut butter, honey-based topping and sauces, green yogurt with fresh mint and tiny pieces of cucumber, cheesy sauces, hummus, or finely-cut dustings of dukkah (choose finely-milled nut, seeds and herb mixes).
Keep it Simple with Fish: Short on time? With a minimum of fuss, many fish varieties are naturally soft and flaky, and are fast and easy to prepare, making them a fantastic weeknight option.
Out for Brunch: Skip the hard breads and rock-solid cafe toasts - choose omelettes and scrambled eggs, and your braces will thank you
Smart Snacking with Braces
Smart snacking with braces means choosing foods that won't compromise your orthodontic appliances while still satisfying those between-meal cravings. We understand that a busy lifestyle means that at least some of your snacks will need to be a little more portable, and require less preparation than formal meals.
More than any other type of food, snacks seem to be where orthodontic patients occasionally come unstuck! This is probably because snacks are sometimes eaten on impulse. Perhaps you've spied your flatmate's peanuts and couldn't resist, or your school-aged child may reach for the wrong foods at recess (perhaps out of their friend's lunchbox!). Despite the temptation to break the rules just once, please remember that broken braces and bent wires can end up compromising your treatment progress, and sweet, sticky snacks can impact your overall oral health.
Examples of snacks to steer clear of include:
Hard candy and lollies
Sticky treats, like caramels
Sugary foods (as well as sugary and/or acidic drinks, like soft drinks!)
Raw veggies and fruits like apples and carrots (if not cut up into bite-sized pieces first)
Hard rolls, tough bread
To increase the likelihood that you'll make a good choice when your tummy starts rumbling, a great idea is to think ahead, in terms of both shopping, and stocking your fridge or pantry with ideal braces-friendly treats. You may like to set up a 'snack station' in your fridge, with plastic containers containing pre-prepared, thinly-sliced fresh veggies and fruits. You can add interest by pairing veggies with various dips, or soft cheese and spreads. Ripe bananas are a fantastic, portable snack option for braces wearers.
Potato crisps, and certain biscuits and crackers can be included as as part of your diet, however you will need to use your judgement when selecting braces-friendly varieties. In order to reduce the risk of any breakages, choose thin crisps, and wafer-like crackers, which require little more than a nibble to break. You should also chew mindfully, being a little more gentle than usual. Try to chew bite-sized pieces on your back teeth, rather than biting directly into snacks, unless they are very soft.
You'll be pleased to know that chocolate is an acceptable occasional indulgence with braces, however it should be enjoyed at a mild, room temperature or higher. Never bite into a block of chocolate that has been stored in the fridge, it's simply too hard for braces!
After snacking, drink plain water, and swish it around your mouth to help rinse away any particles that may get caught in your braces. You may also like to ask your orthodontist if they recommend any braces-friendly, sugar-free chewing gum options. Steer clear of sugary, sticky, bubble-gum.
Braces-Friendly Foods FAQs
Can you eat soft pretzels with braces?
Soft pretzels are usually fine to eat with braces as long as they are not too hard or chewy. Be mindful to break them into smaller pieces, and chew gently to avoid damage to your braces.
Is it possible to eat chips or fries with braces?
While you can eat fries with braces since they are typically soft, it is best to avoid thick, hard 'extra crunch' style type chips as might damage your braces. Thin vegetable crisps are generally fine.
What are the best foods to eat during the first week of braces wear?
During the first week, it's advisable to eat soft foods that require minimal chewing. Foods like yogurt, smoothies, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and boiled vegetables are great options.
What foods should you avoid while wearing braces?
You should avoid hard, crunchy, sticky, and firm, chewy foods that can damage your braces. This includes popcorn, nuts, hard candies, and raw carrots.
When you first get braces, what type of food should you eat?
When you first get braces, stick to eating soft food that's easy to chew to minimise discomfort as your teeth adjust. Applesauce, watermelon, grapes, and soft meats are good choices.
Can you give me some eating with braces tips?
Certainly! Cut food into small, bite-sized pieces, chew slowly using your back teeth, and avoid biting into foods with your front teeth. Also, always have water on hand to help clean food debris from your braces after eating.
Are there any other things to avoid with braces besides certain foods?
Yes, besides avoiding hard, sticky, and chewy foods, you should also refrain from habits like biting your nails, chewing on pencils, or opening things with your teeth.
What are some care instructions for braces after eating?
Always rinse your teeth after eating to remove food particles. Ideally, you should add lunch-time brushing into your oral care routine. At Fine Orthodontics, we supply new braces patients with a portable, travel-sized oral hygiene kit to make this easier.
Can you eat meat if you wear braces?
Yes, you can eat meat, but opt for tender cuts and avoid meat on the bone. Meatloaf, meatballs, and shredded chicken are ideal foods to eat with braces.
How should I prepare crunchy vegetables to be safe for braces?
Crunchy vegetables like raw carrots can be grated, steamed, or cut into thin strips to make them braces-friendly.
Can I still eat chocolate with braces?
Yes, you can enjoy chocolate, especially the milk chocolate varieties that are soft. However, avoid chocolates with nuts or caramel that can stick to your braces.
Can you eat pizza with braces?
You can eat pizza, but it's best to avoid the crust. Soft, non-chewy portions of the pizza are fine as long as you cut them into small pieces.
What are some easy-to-chew foods recommended for those with braces?
Foods like rice, pasta, and soft-cooked grains are easy to chew and are generally safe for braces. Also consider soft fruits and soft cheeses.
Why is it important to avoid hard food like ice cubes with braces?
Chewing ice can lead to broken brackets and wires, and may also damage your teeth.
Are there any tips for cooking and food prep to make meals braces-friendly?
Yes, cook vegetables until they are soft, use slow-cooked or ground meat instead of steak, and prepare grains like rice and pasta until they are tender to make your meals more braces-friendly.
How can I maintain a healthy and balanced diet while wearing braces?
Focus on incorporating a variety of food groups into your meals, such as proteins, vegetables, grains, and dairy, that can be prepared in a braces-safe manner.
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