What Can You Eat When You Have Braces?

by | Mar 23, 2021 | Dental Braces | 0 comments

6 min reading time

Whether we have a sweet tooth and raid the candy box whenever we pass by it, or, on the contrary, we go with the hard, raw veggie team, one thing’s for sure – our love for food cannot be diminished. Enjoying our favorite foods, regardless of the occasion, brings joy and satisfaction to all of us. 

However, you have decided to bring positive change to your dental health and self-confidence and are now considering orthodontic treatment. That’s fantastic!” But what about all of my culinary delights? Am I to say goodbye to them?” “What about my daily chocolate bar or my bagels?” These sorts of questions come to mind, and they deserve an answer.

Here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we believe that no health benefit comes without a sacrifice. Whether it’s time spent outside running or at the gym or saying “no” to excessive fast foods, we all have to give something in return to improve our general health. The same principle applies to teeth straightening. Bad news? You will have to pay more attention to what you eat. Good news? You will enjoy plenty of tasty foods (some that might be new and exciting to you) while wearing braces. Join us in today’s quest to learn more about the difference between the “Never-Eat!” and “A-Okay” foods for your braces!


What Holds the Braces to the Teeth?

In order to stay in place and straighten our teeth, the most common braces type employs small, square-shaped pieces made of metal or ceramic, called brackets. Either through cement-type glue or rubber bands, brackets are fixed on the teeth themselves, holding the archwire in place.

While modern technology has developed sturdier teeth straightening devices over time, they are not, however, infallible. Accidents can still happen – several food types can damage and break the rubber bands or the brackets themselves, causing pain and discomfort and undoing your results.


eat when you have braces

Why Can Sticky or Hard Foods Dislodge Your Braces?

For that reason, keeping a closer look at what you should or should not eat when wearing braces is critical. The latter, for example, is full of “beloved culprits,” such as sticky or hard foods. Though this might act as a deterrent from your teeth straightening treatment now, it is paramount to understand why we recommend that you abstain from these foods as much as possible.

Let’s begin with sticky foods. The name says it all – they can easily get caught in braces and make cleaning more than a nightmare. Furthermore, they can have a loosening effect on brackets and ligatures and bend wires up to the point of breaking. For that reason, people with a sweet tooth should try to stay away from their favorite gummy candy, candy bars, or chewing gum and look for more braces-friendly alternatives.  

Moving on, hard foods fall into the same category – they have a tendency to bend wires and pop off brackets. Moreover, it’s not just hard foods – chewing on pens, pencils, or fingernails has the same effect. Unfortunately, even healthy fruits and vegetables, such as hard nuts, apples, or carrots, fall into this category. However, there’s a way to enjoy your favorite fruits and veggies while keeping your braces intact: make sure that you cut them into small pieces and eat them carefully or soften them through cooking!


Dr. Lee’s Dangerous Foods List

With that being said, here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we want our patients to be informed thoroughly about what they should or should not eat when wearing braces. After many years of experience with teeth straightening devices and careful observations, we have put together Dr. Lee’s Dangerous Foods List to act as a guide for our patients:

The “Never Eat!” When You Have Braces List

The following foods have a proven loosening effect on the brackets, causing extended treatment time:

  • Bagels & hard rolls: e.g., French bread croutons and any breads with a hard crust
  • Sticky & hard candies: e.g., Skittles, Starburst, Laffy Taffy, Twizzlers, Caramel, etc.
  • Hard fruit: always remember to cut and cook before eating
  • Raw veggies: e.g., carrots, broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery (cutting into small pieces and cooking before eating is advised)
  • Other sticky or hard foods: e.g., hard shell tacos, beef jerky, granola bars, corn chips, pretzels, ice, hard pizza crust, chewing gum, nuts, popcorn, etc. 


The “A-Okay” When You Have Braces List

Wearing braces is not about what you cannot eat, but about all the wonderful substitutes (perhaps even new ones) that you can now enjoy! The following foods can fill the void left by bagels and candy:

  • Substitutes for sweets: e.g., pudding, peanut butter & jelly, Jell-O, pancakes, oatmeal, muffins, soft cookies, etc.
  • Softer food dishes: e.g., soups, mashed potatoes, Mac & Cheese, pasta, rice, salads, tender chicken breast, burgers, meatloaf, etc.
  • Other soft foods: e.g., cheese, tofu, hummus, milkshakes, etc.


What to Do If Your Braces or Retainer Detached

Although you plan to pay close attention to what you eat and stay away from the “Never-Eat!” list, one legitimate question remains:” What to do if my braces or retainer is detached?” This is a serious question, as any loosening of brackets may set your treatment back by months and cause uneven teeth straightening. Furthermore, any loose pieces are a choking hazard and can cause discomforts.

However, there’s no need to panic since dealing with loose brackets is easier than you might think. Make sure that you contact your orthodontist, explain the situation, and schedule an appointment depending on how urgent the matter is. Your orthodontist will assess the state of the loosened bracket(s) and recement it on your tooth.


eat when you have braces

Nothing should stand between you and the perfect smile, and our Loudoun Orthodontics dental team, with its state-of-the-art technology and expertise, is ready to make your dreams come to life. Are you ready to begin your own teeth-straightening journey? Make sure that you schedule a complimentary consultation with us, or check out our blog!