Food to Avoid if You Wear Braces

If you wear braces there are some foods you should avoid. In this way, you can keep your braces and your mouth in good condition.
Food to Avoid if You Wear Braces
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 22 September, 2022

When starting orthodontic treatment, you may have many questions about the care and maintenance of your new braces. One such question will probably be the food to eat and avoid if you wear braces.

When it comes to eating, the best option for your health is to eat a healthy, nutritious, balanced, and varied diet, even if you wear braces. However, in the latter case there are some aspects that you should consider in order to prevent problems.

The type of cooking, the size of the portions, and the texture of the food are factors to consider when using these elements. What should be avoided? Which foods should be prioritized? Here’s what to avoid.

Why avoid certain food if you wear braces?

Braces are small attachments that are placed on the tooth surfaces in traditional orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist uses them to make small adjustments that apply pressure on the teeth.

With these stimuli, they can change the position of the teeth, align them, and correct bite problems. Depending on the complexity of the case and the condition to be corrected, these appliances are worn for varying periods of time. As they can be quite long-term items, it’s essential to know how to look after them well.

Keeping them in good condition allows the treatment to run its course and achieve the expected results. On the contrary, if they’re damaged, become detached, or the archwire comes off, the treatment has to be halted.

When the treatment is interrupted, the treatment time as a whole is prolonged and the results may not be as expected. In addition, the patient may feel discomfort, and pain and suffer lesions in the oral mucosa due to broken braces.

Nowadays there are different treatment variants that allow the braces to be placed on the front surface of the teeth or on the inside, so that they aren’t so visible. In addition, they’re made of different materials that respond to the patient’s needs, priorities, and budget – these materials include metal, porcelain, or sapphire.

Orthodontic appliances are prepared to withstand the forces of chewing and the movements that occur when we eat. Even so, certain products can damage them. Let’s take a look.

A woman with braces.
Some foods can damage orthodontic appliances. Therefore, it’s advisable to limit their intake during treatment.

6 foods that are best to avoid if you wear braces

As soon as the orthodontist places the braces in your mouth, it’s normal to feel a little discomfort. The pressure the braces put on your teeth to move them can cause a fair amount of pain.

However, that uncomfortable feeling goes away as the days go by. Most people are used to the new object in their mouth within a week. However, during the adaptation stage, experts suggest that you make some adjustments to your diet.

In particular, it’s advisable to eat food that doesn’t require much effort to chew and swallow. A soft and smooth diet (that practically melts in the mouth) will avoid overtaxing the painful braces.

Once the discomfort has disappeared, there are also certain foods that are best avoided. As you’ll see, these foods can damage the orthodontics or get trapped in the spaces between the teeth and the braces, hindering hygiene.

For example, eating fruit and taking a big bite can dislodge the braces. If food remains on the teeth, the risk of oral diseases such as caries, gingivitis and periodontitis increases.

Likewise, to prevent these problems, it’s important to consider the texture of the food, and cut it and eat it in small pieces. What foods should you avoid if you wear braces?

1. Chewing gum and candy

If you wear braces, it’s best to avoid sticky food. Chewing gum, candy, and sweets make hygiene difficult because they stick to the braces. Chewing gum, in particular, can break or loosen these items because it involves repetitive chewing and pulling.

The large amount of simple sugars in these products promotes bacterial buildup and tooth decay. Wearing braces in itself makes oral hygiene difficult, and it increases the chances of suffering from the disease. And if the diet is very sweet, the risk increases.

These are some of the sweets you should avoid if you wear braces:

  • Jelly beans
  • Candies
  • Nougat
  • Chewing gum
  • Raisins and candied fruits
  • Granola bars
  • Lollipops and lollipops
  • Licorice

2. Very hard and crunchy foods

Other foods to avoid when wearing braces are those with a very crunchy or hard texture. Eating them requires additional force to bite and chew them, so they might break or detach parts of the braces.

It’s also common, when chewing hard foods, that fragments remain in the gaps in the braces, making them difficult to clean. The most common examples are pizza crusts, toasted bread, crunchy crackers, nuts, and popcorn.

Neither is it a good idea to chew on ice or frozen popsicles. In these cases, it’s better to suck them.

3. Whole or very hard fruit and vegetables

Biting into an apple or eating corn on the cob could dislodge the braces from the teeth.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid such nutritious and necessary foods as fruits and vegetables. You simply need to change the way you prepare them to make them easier to eat.

Vegetables can be eaten steamed or in purees. Fruits can be made into compotes. If you prefer to eat these foods raw, ideally you should cut them into small pieces to facilitate their chewing.

Lettuce often leaves residue adhered to the appliance, which makes them difficult to remove. Although these vegetables aren’t a no-no, and if you decide to eat them, you should clean your mouth thoroughly after finishing.

4. Meat on the bone

Eating chicken wings or beef ribs using your hands won’t be possible while wearing braces. Eating these animal proteins straight from the bone can damage them or leave pieces of the food embedded between the teeth and the braces.

However, this doesn’t mean that meat should be taken off the menu. As with fruits and vegetables, you need to change the way it’s prepared and find an easier way to eat it, such as cut into small pieces or minced.

Regardless of the way it’s eaten, some small pieces of meat can still get trapped in the braces. To solve this problem, you should brush your teeth and the braces well after eating. Also, complement your hygiene with dental floss, irrigators, and specific orthodontic brushes.

5. Foods that stain

We recommend you avoid colored foods and drinks with pigments if you wear porcelain brackets or transparent gums. These foods with a lot of color can stain them, making them more noticeable or giving them a dirty appearance. With this, you lose the aesthetic characteristics you’re looking for.

Here are some of the foods and drinks that stain teeth and aesthetic braces.

  • Beet
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Red wine
  • Fruit juices
  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Tomato extract
  • Soy sauce
  • Curry
  • Turmeric
  • Any ultra-processed food with a lot of coloring

Read also: The Causes of Stained Teeth

6. Citrus and spicy

Appliances in the mouth are still foreign bodies that can cause small wounds or injuries to the oral mucosa. The lips, cheeks, and tongue rubbing against the braces can cause sores or irritation.

Protective orthodontic wax helps prevent this type of injury. However, despite this, sometimes they appear anyway. In these cases, it’s best to avoid some foods until the sores heal.

Spicy foods and acidic foods will increase discomfort and delay the healing of the sores, so they should be avoided. Citrus fruits, fruit juices, pineapple, vinegar, and spicy foods aren’t a good idea if you have ulcers in your mouth.

Food to avoid if you wear braces.
Eating spicy foods can cause discomfort if there are ulcers or sores from wearing braces.

What foods to prefer when wearing braces?

Although we already told you about the foods you should avoid if you have braces, you may still have questions about eating during orthodontics. It’s very important that, during treatment, you don’t avoid food groups because of the difficulty in eating them.

You should look for the necessary alternatives so that your diet is complete and nutritious. Here are some foods and ways to prepare them that will make eating easier and more comfortable:

  • Creams and purees: Crushing and mashing the ingredients of the recipe means you don’t have to chew them, thus facilitating swallowing.
  • Soups: Another food that provides vitamins and minerals without the need to use your teeth. They can be consumed hot or cold.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Vegetables can be steamed, cooked, roasted, mashed or even made into smoothies. Fruit can also be cooked, or you can make compotes or smoothies. These ways of preparation reduce the strain on the teeth when eating.
  • Minced meat: Recipes containing minced meat, such as hamburgers or meatballs, make it easier to eat.
  • Fish: Fish meat has a soft and firm texture. This makes it an excellent option to incorporate animal protein in an easy way.
  • Eggs: You can prepare them in different ways and all of them will be soft and easy to eat. It’s an item that provides balanced fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Salads: You can do without lettuce and make salads combining tubers or cooked vegetables.
  • Legumes, pasta and rice: Always make sure they’re well cooked.
  • Dairy products: Yogurt and soft cheeses are very easy to eat.
  • Soft bread: These need to be crustless.
  • Warm foods: Food temperature is another factor to consider. To reduce the sensitivity of the tissues due to the use of the braces or if you have sores, then the food should be warm. Avoid extreme cold or heat.

Other important care tips for braces

Now you know the food you should avoid and the food you should favor when wearing braces. But there are also other things to keep in mind to ensure that your orthodontic treatment progresses successfully.

Eating slowly and chewing carefully is essential to keep your braces in good condition, even when you’re really hungry. Drinking water during meals helps to rinse away food debris that gets stuck to the braces.

Try to chew your food with your molars and not with other teeth. In this way, you will avoid problems with the front part of the braces. It’s also important not to bite hard objects such as pens, pencils, or toys, or to bite your nails.

Maintaining good oral hygiene habits is essential in order to take care of orthodontic apparatus and to maintain oral health. Regular and proper use of a toothbrush, dental floss, fluoride toothpaste, and mouthwash will help eliminate food debris that gets trapped.

Avoiding the foods mentioned here, maintaining proper oral hygiene, and attending the scheduled checkups with the orthodontist will help you look after your braces well. With these simple practices, you’ll be able to achieve the healthy and aligned teeth you always wanted.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.