What Can You Eat When You Have Braces?
Remember, teeth move best in a healthy environment and in individuals with excellent overall health. Be sure you have a well-balanced diet!
Potential Harm to Your Teeth and Gums
There are certain dietary habits that are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances, as well as increase the risk of dental disease. Dr. Coleman's aim is to achieve the treatment goals with as few disturbances as possible due to appliance breakage, and to minimize the side effects of poor diet choices.
Foods and drinks that may cause cavities should be restricted while wearing braces. Sticky food is to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. This type of food sticks to braces and remains on your teeth for long periods of time.
If food or drinks high in sugar content are to be consumed, we advise having them with regular meals or at one given time of day. Please make sure that careful brushing and rinsing take place immediately afterwards. Between-meal snacks should be confined to foods without refined sugar, and should be followed by brushing or vigorous rinsing.
Potential Harm to Your Braces
Braces are attached to your teeth with an adhesive that normally will withstand the forces of eating. However, braces can be dislodged and wires bent or broken while eating certain foods.
For most situations, common sense will tell you what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods; they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil and pen chewing and chewing on foreign objects should be avoided.
Foods that should be avoided during orthodontic treatment:
- Ice—chewing it will quickly destroy your braces.
- Sticky food or candy of any kind (taffy, caramels, Tootsie Rolls, Gummy Bears, Now and Laters) damages 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, Cornnuts, 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 water after eating sweet foods.
Remember, if you have any questions about dietary restrictions or good food choices at any point in your treatment, please ask!
Care & Maintenance
Brushing with braces can take some getting used to. Maneuvering around brackets and wires takes a little practice. Be sure to brush thoroughly after every meal or snack, so any food particles are removed before bacteria has a chance to grow.
If you’re not able to brush right away, rinsing your mouth with water will help until you can get to a toothbrush.
Follow these tips for the best results:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
- Braces wear toothbrushes out quickly, so be sure to replace yours as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.
- Brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth.
- Look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible. Fuzzy-or dull-looking metal indicates poor brushing.
- Floss every night before you go to bed. Tools like floss threaders and waterpiks are helpful if you’re having difficulty with getting a good floss underneath the wires.
Eating With Braces
Don't worry, you'll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time. However, before you enjoy some of the treats you love, you'll need to avoid any foods that could damage your new braces.
Foods You Can Eat
- Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
- Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
- Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
- Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
- Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
- Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
- Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice
- Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake
Foods to Avoid
- Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
- Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
- Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum
- Hard foods — nuts, hard candies
- Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
There are also a few oral habits you’ll want to steer clear of to keep your braces functioning perfectly.
Chewing on objects like pens and ice cubes, biting your nails, and smoking can all cause unwanted pressure on your braces.
Do your best to find another way to keep yourself busy while undergoing orthodontic treatment.
If your teeth begin feeling a little loose, don't worry – it’s normal! Your braces must loosen your teeth first to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they won’t be loose anymore.
Loose Wires, Bands, & Brackets
The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.
You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to carefully and gently push the wire back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.
Misplaced Archwire, Bracket, or Tie
Once your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to move. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks.
You can often move this wire into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. You can manipulate any misplaces wires or ties back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers.
If some of the wires or brackets have shifted, and begun causing irritation to your mouth, you can use orthodontic wax to cover the parts that are poking out.
This will help ease the discomfort, but make sure you get in touch with our office as soon as you can so we can fix the actual problem instead of you only masking the symptoms at home.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Appliance
Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you consistently wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances prescribed by your doctor.
For example, Invisalign’s clear aligner system will only work if the aligners are worn the 20-22 hours per day as recommended. Following instructions is the only way to ensure your treatment is effective, and to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted.
Tips for Athletes & Musicians
You can still play sports like normal during your treatment, but remember to protect your teeth with an orthodontic friendly mouth guard, or to remove your Invisalign aligner during practice or the game.
If you have an accident during your athletic activity, check your appliances and your mouth immediately. If the appliances appear damaged or the teeth loosened, schedule an appointment.
If you play an instrument, you may find it a little challenging to become adjusted to playing with your braces. It’s normal to have some difficulty with proper lip position.
Sores can also develop, but the liberal use of wax and warm saltwater rinses will help your lips and cheeks toughen up more quickly than you’d think.