Braces are a common orthodontic treatment that helps align teeth and create a beautiful smile.

To help patients better understand how braces work, we’ve written on topics like what to expect during treatment, common orthodontic issues that braces can fix, and how to care for your smile after braces

But food and diet are still some of the most misunderstood aspects of treatment. This matters because a braces-friendly diet can help ensure the effectiveness of the treatment and avoid complications.

While it’s true that you need to avoid some foods, we’re here to set the record straight with comprehensive guidance and helpful takeaway lists. In this article, we will explore the foods you should avoid while wearing braces and provide you with tips for enjoying fun and tasty alternatives that are still safe to eat.

Foods to Avoid with Braces

Let’s start with what you should leave on the grocery store shelf and out of your cart. Hard and crunchy foods can be detrimental to braces as they can damage the brackets or wires. Nuts, seeds, hard candies, and lollipops should be avoided during orthodontic treatment. Additionally, popcorn can easily get stuck in brackets or between wires and teeth, which causes discomfort. In severe cases, it could even distort or break brace components.

Sticky and chewy foods should be off-limits as they can easily get tangled in your braces and make cleaning difficult. Common snack items to stay away from include chewing gum, caramel, taffy, gummy bears, and fruit snacks. These foods can not only damage your braces but also increase the risk of tooth decay due to the high sugar content.

Foods that require biting with front teeth can put excessive pressure on your braces and cause discomfort. Whole apples and carrots, corn on the cob, and hard breads should be either avoided or cut into small, bite-sized pieces.

Braces-Friendly Foods

While some foods are off-limits, there are plenty of sweet, savory, and safe options to satisfy cravings during your orthodontic journey.

Soft and cooked vegetables are excellent choices that can also be healthy. Foods like mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli, cauliflower, cooked carrots, and peas are not only easy to chew but also offer health benefits. You’ll enjoy consistent energy and better digestive health by consistently incorporating easily chewable vegetables.

Soft fruits are a sweet treat and refreshing snack that won’t harm your braces. Opt for bananas, berries, melons, and seedless grapes. If you enjoy apples and pears, peel and slice them into manageable pieces to avoid biting directly into the fruit or battling tough skins.

Soft proteins are essential for a balanced diet. You can enjoy tender meats like chicken, fish, and turkey in your meals (grilled, baked, fried, etc.). Soft tofu and cooked beans are also excellent sources of protein. Eggs in various forms such as scrambled, boiled, or poached are braces-friendly and provide a nutritional boost.

Tips for Fun and Tasty Braces-Friendly Foods

Maintaining a braces-friendly diet doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor and enjoyment. Here are some tips to make your meals exciting and satisfying:

  1. Indulge in smoothies and milkshakes. Blend your favorite fruits with yogurt or milk for a refreshing treat. Experiment with different combinations and add vegetables like spinach or carrots for added nutrition.
  2. Soft dairy products like yogurt can be enjoyed with soft fruits such as berries or mashed bananas. Pudding and custard are also braces-friendly desserts that provide a creamy and dessert-like texture.
  3. Soft bread and pasta dishes can be enjoyed with caution. Opt for sandwiches with thinly sliced fillings, such as deli meats or soft cheeses. Macaroni and cheese or soft tortillas with fillings are also delicious options that won’t harm your braces.

Don’t forget about braces-friendly snacks. Choose cheese cubes or sticks for a protein-rich and teeth-friendly option. Soft granola bars and protein bars are convenient snacks that can satisfy your cravings. Soft pretzels and crackers are also great alternatives for crunchy and salty cravings.

Consistency Counts

Maintaining a braces-friendly diet is crucial for successful orthodontic treatment and overall oral health. By avoiding hard, sticky, and chewy foods, you can protect your braces from damage and ensure the best possible results. 

When it feels hard to stall a craving, you can get creative with smoothies, soft dairy products, and bread-based dishes to make a special meal or snack. 

Remember that your orthodontist’s advice is always intended to help you maintain good oral hygiene to achieve the masterpiece smile you deserve. With a little creativity and adherence to dietary guidelines, you can make the most of your braces journey while still enjoying tasteful, fun, and safe foods.