Traditional braces consist of bands, brackets and wires, which are easily dislodged or damaged while eating. When orthodontic braces sustain damage, they cease to work in the intended way. For this reason, it is essential to take good care of your braces and follow guidelines for eating as provided by your orthodontist.
Certain types of foods should either be completely avoided or eaten with extreme care. Here are some general guidelines to follow when eating with braces:
Do Not Eat Hard Foods Whole
Hard foods pose the biggest threat to braces. They can dislodge the brackets and snap the wires. Here are some foods which must never be eaten whole:
- Hard candy
- Popcorn (the kernels can cause breakage or inflammation if they get stuck between teeth)
- Ice cubes
- Unsliced hard fruits and vegetables
- Hard potato chips
Slice Fruits and Vegetables Before Consumption
There are many hard, healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables that should still be consumed, but need to be prepared first. The best way to eat fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and apples, without damaging braces is to slice or dice them into small pieces. This will make them easier to eat and reduce the chance of dislodging braces.
Do Not Eat Sticky Foods
Sticky foods can quickly dislodge braces and tend to wrap around brackets, making them look stained and unattractive. Examples of sticky foods to be avoided include:
- Chocolate bars containing caramel
Similarly, foods which are generally eaten off the bone or the cob must be must be completely stripped from the bone, and then cut into tiny pieces which will not dislodge or break appliances.
Do Not Chew On Inedible Items
Chewing on pencils, crayons, pens or fingernails can easily damage braces. Always keep in mind that your orthodontic appliances are fragile. Some habits and activities require a change in routine to ensure effective treatment.
Avoid Sugary Foods and Drinks
It is no secret that high sugar levels lead to tooth decay. As orthodontic appliances can exacerbate the decay process, it is even more crucial to think about the sugar content in foods. It is also essential to thoroughly brush teeth (including in-between the brackets) a minimum of four times each day. If brushing is not an option after every meal, try to rinse with water to remove food particles captured on brackets and between teeth.
Always remember to remove retainers before drinking beverages. The sugary liquid can become trapped between the device and teeth, which expedites the decay process.
Here are some sugary foods and beverages to avoid (the sugarless versions are acceptable):
- Breath mints
- Iced tea
- Jam and jelly
- Fruit juice
If you have any questions or concerns about what foods to eat while wearing braces, please contact your orthodontist.