Youre hungry, you know you need to eat a balanced diet, and youd love to sink your teeth into something tasty. The problem is, with your braces, sinking your teeth into anything at all is much easier said than done. There are plenty of other foods to avoid when you have braces, from caramel to popcorn, as well as foods to use extra care when eating, such as corn, apples and soda.But dont panic there are a lot of foods that you can eat.
Say No To Sticky, Sugary, Starchy Stuff
Before focusing on what you can eat, there are things you definitely need to avoid. For example, sticky, sugary, or starchy foods generate plaque acid, which causes tooth decay and promotes gum disease. Because your teeth are more difficult to clean when you have braces, youre at a greater risk for gum disease. Plus, sticky, chewy sweets like caramel can cause wire damage and loosen the brackets on your teeth.
Items such as any hard candy, lollipops, bubble gum, gumballs, taffy, candy bars, jelly beans or other candies should be cut down drastically or given up completely, if possible. You should also cut down on beverages high in sugars, such as soda or artificial juices. Remember that the plaque can build around your brackets and eat the calcium off your teeth. It would be a shame if you went to such lengths to straighten your teeth, but ended up with stains! If you cant help it and absolutely need to eat something sweet, you should do so when it is possible to brush and floss immediately afterward.
Avoid Hard Or Crunchy Foods
From a few days to a few weeks after you get your new braces or your existing braces tightened, youll probably feel a considerable amount of pain. Its okay, your teeth are moving! For straight teeth and a great smile, the pain is a good thing. However, you may find it virtually impossible to chew anything remotely hard or crunchy. On top of the pain, eating hard or crunchy foods can break braces or make the braces less effective, lengthening the process of straightening your teeth altogether.
Avoid things like hard pretzels, carrots, apples, corn on the cob, hard granola bars, nuts, beef jerky, popcorn, chips, celery, and foods you would typically bite into with your front teeth.
What Can I Eat?
Hopefully you dont become too frustrated with all of the food limitations. You still need your nutrients, and youre probably getting really hungry by now. No worries a lot of the foods that you should avoid can be modified, making it possible to work some of them back into your diet. For example, hard vegetables like carrots can be cut up into little pieces, or ribboned. Just run a knife down the side of a carrot as though youre skinning it, cutting thin layers of carrots as you go. You shouldnt have any trouble eating the thin layers of carrots you get as a result. Additionally, you can cut all of the corn off the cob, or cut apples, pears or other fruits into tiny pieces, making them easy to eat.
One of the best things to eat if you are in a lot of pain, and something you can make with a variety of ingredients, is a smoothie. Smoothies are cold, which can help ease the discomfort youre feeling if youve just gotten your braces or theyve just been tightened. You can mix many kinds of fruits, vegetables, or other ingredients into a pureed smoothie, giving you a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals.
Having braces gives you the opportunity to get creative with what you eat, so consider this your pass to eat breakfast foods such as yogurt, muffins, pancakes or scrambled eggs at any time of day. Foods like quinoa, squash and mashed potatoes are all easy-to-eat side dishes that can go a long way in filling you up when youre hungry. Dont forget about soup, pudding or tofu, either.
While having braces and getting them regularly tightened can be a literal pain, it will be worth it, so hang in there! There are plenty of tasty foods you can eat as well as ways to make some foods easier to eat, but make sure to stay away from anything that can cause stains and cavities. Also, always remember to brush, floss and rinse your teeth. Youll have that movie-star smile before you know it.
Dr. Inna Gellerman of Inna Gellerman, DDS is a board certified orthodontist and a diplomat of the American Board of Orthodontics. She's a Long Island orthodontist servicing Huntington area residents. She uses innovative techniques, combining her scientific background and artistic eye, to bring a highly personalized care plan to each of her patients.
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