Do you know what to avoid with braces? Check out five types of food that are totally off limits while you’re waiting for your pearly whites to straighten!
Congratulations – you have (or are getting) braces! Seems crazy to congratulate someone on something that many people would rather avoid, but as a 20-year braces graduate, I am still thankful that I had the opportunity to live the rest of my life with straight teeth. The pain and discomfort were well worth it, and I’d do it all over again to be confident with my smile (not to mention the other benefits of a correct bite).
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about what you should avoid when you have braces. I knew some people who threw caution to the wind with their braces, and it worked out for them. I also know others (like my sister) who lost a bracket eating something soft that was definitely not a food to avoid. It can go either way! As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to avoid the following foods when you have braces!
Foods to Avoid with Braces
- Candy, especially hard candy, gum, and taffy. Think about how hard it is to get taffy out of your teeth. Now imagine brackets with tiny holes for it to get caught in. If you aren’t able to clean the brackets entirely, the sugar just sits there and can do a number on your teeth. Hard candy can easily crack or dislodge a bracket – this is especially true if you have clear (ceramic) braces. Regarding gum, sugar-free is less likely to stick to your brackets, but I still recommend curbing your gum habit until your braces are removed.
- Whole fruit and vegetables. Apples and carrots (among other fruits and vegetables) are wonderful to eat with braces because the crunchy (yet not too hard) texture will help to clean your molars, but don’t bite into them. You want to be careful of the brackets on your front teeth, so it’s a good idea to slice most foods before eating them and let your molars do most of the work.
- Foods that stain (coffee, pomegranate juice, beets, etc.). If you have ceramic braces or lightly colored rubber bands holding the wire to the bracket, some foods will discolor the bracket or rubber band and draw unnecessary attention to your teeth. If coffee is a non-negotiable for you (it was for me), stick with gray rubber bands – you’ll be glad you did!
- Popcorn. I know, and I’m sorry. You know how even when the kernel looks fully popped, sometimes you bite into it and find that the inside is still pretty hard? That hard kernel can either get lodged in a bracket or cause one to pop off altogether.
- Acidic or sugary foods. Properly cleaning your teeth with braces is much harder than without braces because of the wires and all the nooks and crannies in the brackets. Your saliva has a harder time getting to the tooth surface, as well, to naturally wash away acid and sugar that can erode your tooth enamel. If you do consume acidic or sugary foods, rinse well with water and brush as soon as you can afterward.
By avoiding the foods mentioned above, you have a better chance of avoiding emergency orthodontist appointments. That being said, if you do lose a bracket, feel pain that is different than the ache after a tightening, are being poked by a wire, or you feel that a band is even the slightest bit loose, get in to see your orthodontist immediately. Before you know it, your braces will be off, and you’re in for a lifetime of straight teeth (just wear those retainers!)!
Even if you know what foods to avoid with braces, you’ll still need to take extra care of your teeth while you’re wearing them. You know how you’re usually supposed to brush twice a day? Well, when you have braces, dentists actually recommend that you brush every time you eat. Bits of food particles can get stuck in your braces, leading to everything from bad breath to tooth decay. Don’t have a toothbrush handy? Try rinsing vigorously, either with mouthwash or just plain water. Also, when you floss, make sure you’re flossing under the wires as well as between your teeth.
If you take care to avoid these foods with braces and make sure you’re keeping up with good oral hygiene, your teeth will look gorgeous once those braces come off! Trust me, it’s well worth it in the long run!