Braces are an orthodontic treatment that helps kids, teens, and adults with crooked or gapped teeth get their healthy and confident smile. One question patients usually ask their local orthodontist when they first get braces is whether they have to change the way they eat. While braces are durable, you do need to know that some foods could cause discomfort for your teeth, while others can potentially damage your braces.

You can help in the teeth straightening process by making sure your braces don’t bend or break while you are wearing them. This means you might have to alter the way you eat a little or avoid certain foods altogether. Here are some tips about food to eat with braces, foods to avoid with braces, and tips for eating with braces.

Foods to Eat With Braces

Getting braces doesn’t mean you have to dramatically change your eating habits. You simply have to learn to eat in a way that prevents damage to your braces and keeps your teeth free from decay to achieve optimum results.

Here are ideas to help you select a healthy variety of yummy foods that are less likely to damage your braces:

  • Soft Fruits: Select from options like berries, bananas, and melons. Be mindful of any seeds that might get caught and be prepared to rinse and brush your teeth after eating. Smoothies combine a lot of healthy ingredients into a drinkable treat. 
  • Vegetables: Choose a healthy variety of easy-to-chew cooked or steamed vegetables. Avoid corn on the cob and raw vegetables that might cause damage when biting into them.
  • Grains: Grain is a good source of fiber and nutrients but, here again, look for softer grains like rice, bread, or oatmeal that are easy to chew. Some whole grain products may have particles that can get caught in your braces, so be sure to brush after eating.
  • Dairy: Select from low-fat or dairy alternative products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. 
  • Meats: Opt for softer cuts of meat such as chicken, fish, and lean beef. Avoid eating meat directly from the bone such as chicken wings. Scrambled eggs, omelets, or quiches are taste-tempting options that are high in protein like meat.
  • Pasta: Spaghetti, lasagna, or macaroni and cheese are all great meal ideas. Make sure all ingredients in the sauce are cooked thoroughly.
  • Soups: Most soups/stews are great to eat, too, because the ingredients are cooked slowly. Watch for any soups with meats that are stringy or contain bones.

Foods to Avoid With Braces

Some foods are too hard or sticky to eat safely because they can break wires or brackets which may increase your treatment time. 

Examples of foods to avoid with braces include:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Gum
  • Most candy – avoid sticky or hard candy, especially.
  • Beef and other kinds of jerky.
  • Hard pretzels
  • Raw vegetables
  • Hard fruits such as apples or unripe pears and peaches.
  • Crusty bread

Don’t worry if your favorites are on the list of foods to avoid. If you follow these instructions, your orthodontic treatment will proceed according to plan and your braces will be removed in as little time as possible.

Tips for Eating With Braces

You can adapt some of your eating habits to help prevent damage to your braces as well. Basic tips to keep in mind include:

  • Start slowly with soft foods when you first get your braces and slowly introduce different options.
  • Try to avoid biting with your front teeth. Cut your food into smaller pieces that can be chewed with your back teeth.
  • Eat slowly and chew carefully.
  • Rinse your mouth completely and brush and floss as directed by your local orthodontist.

No matter how careful you are, there may still be times when you accidentally damage your braces. Call your local orthodontist as quickly as possible to fix your braces and stay on track.

Our Favorite Braces-Friendly Recipes

SOFT PRETZELS 

Regular crunchy pretzels might be a no while you are in braces, but how about some delicious, warm soft pretzels?

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package dry active yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Approximately 4 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • ⅔ cup baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Vegetable oil for pan
  • Pretzel salt (sea salt works well, too)

What to do: 

Mix together water, sugar, and kosher salt in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let the mixture sit until foamy, approximately 5 minutes. Add flour and butter and mix until combined. Knead the dough until smooth, either by hand or by mixing on medium speed with an electric mixer until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough and clean the bowl, then oil it with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it and allow it to sit in a warm place for about 50 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly brush it with oil.
Add 10 cups of water and baking soda to a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, dividing dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a rope, approximately 24 inches long. Then shape into a pretzels – make a U shape, then holding the ends, cross them over each other and press them into the bottom of the U.
One by one, boil each pretzels for about 30 seconds. Return them to the sheet pan and brush each with egg yolk and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

SUMMER TROPICAL SMOOTHIE 

Whether you have braces as an adult, teen, or child, you’re allowed to indulge your sweet tooth a little with this delicious (and easy to make!) smoothie.

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 ½ cups coconut water
  • 2 cups frozen pineapple, in chunks
  • 2 bananas, in slices
  • 2 cups orange juice

What to do: 

Blend ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy!

LOADED BAKED POTATO 

You may not be able to eat your favorite potato chips, but who needs those when you’ve got the ultimate loaded baked potato recipe to enjoy? This recipe makes enough for the entire family to enjoy!

What you’ll need: 

  • 4 large potatoes
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped chives
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices of crispy bacon, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork to poke small holes throughout the potato, then wrap tightly in foil. Bake for an hour, or until soft. Unwrap the potatoes and cut slits lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of the potato into a medium bowl. Mix the potato with butter, sour cream, green onions whites, chives, half of the cheese and half of the bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the filling back into the potato skins. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and return to oven until melted. Top with green onions and remaining bacon and enjoy!

Eating with braces doesn’t have to be boring or painful. Get creative in the kitchen with these braces-friendly recipes or try creating your own! 

Smile Doctors offers different types of braces for kids, teens, and adults to suit your specific needs. Talk to one of our skilled local orthodontists today to learn more about the benefits of braces and the best braces-friendly foods.

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