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What You Can and Can't Eat with Braces

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Written by
NewMouth
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Kunle Ajanaku
5 Sources Cited

Best Foods to Eat When You Have Braces

When you have braces, it’s important to be mindful of what and how you eat. This will not only ensure the effectiveness of your braces, but also help you avoid unnecessary discomfort.

In the first few days after you get braces, your teeth will feel especially sensitive. Your orthodontist will also explain that certain foods can harm or even break your braces.

The safest foods for braces, especially for the first few days, are ones that:

  • Require minimal chewing
  • Don’t stick to your teeth
  • Aren’t too spicy or acidic
  • Aren’t too hot or cold

Over time, your teeth will gradually adjust. Chewing will become easier, and your teeth may be able to handle more heat, cold, and spice. But, you’ll still want to avoid anything sticky.

Here are some soft foods that are safe to eat with braces:

  • Soups
  • Smoothies
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Yogurt, ice cream, and other soft dairy products
  • Oatmeal, pasta, and other soft cereal products
  • Soft vegetables, such as mashed potatoes
  • Soft fruits, such as bananas

This is a good list to stick to for at least the first few days after having your braces put on. This will keep your braces intact and reduce tooth sensitivity.

All of these foods are soft and easy to eat with braces, but they aren’t equal in nutritional value.1 Ice cream and soft pastries may be convenient, but they also tend to be high in sugar and low in important nutrients.

Soups and smoothies are just as easy to eat, but they also have nutritional benefits, such as large amounts of protein and micronutrients.

By emphasizing foods like these during braces treatment, you can make things easier on your mouth while still getting the nutrients you need. You’ll also avoid relying too heavily on sugary foods that can contribute to cavities.1

Once your mouth has adjusted to the pressure of the braces, your list of safe foods can expand. After the first few days go by, you may be able to start eating:

  • Chewier cuts of meat
  • Soft bread
  • Citrus fruits

Even as you begin to reintroduce some of these foods, practice caution. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop eating the food right away. You may also try cutting your food into smaller pieces.

How to Eat with Braces

When your braces are still new, your mouth is going to feel more sensitive than usual. By sticking to foods that don’t require much chewing, you’ll reduce any sensitivity.

But even once you’ve adjusted enough to eat things like sandwiches or certain cuts of meat, you’ll still need to be careful.

Here are some good rules to follow throughout your braces treatment:

  • Continue to avoid hard and/or sticky foods
  • Take small, careful bites
  • Chew slowly
  • Cut chewy foods into smaller pieces to make them easier to chew
  • Avoid pizza crusts
  • Don’t eat meat off the bone

What Can’t You Eat with Braces?

Hard and sticky foods are best avoided completely during your time wearing braces. They can easily become stuck, which can damage the wires. An especially hard piece of food may even cause a bracket to separate.2

Foods to avoid while undergoing braces treatment include:

  • Hard, tough, or sticky candy
  • Popcorn
  • Corn on the cob
  • Chips, pretzels, and similar crunchy snacks
  • Nuts
  • Harder pieces of bread, such as bagels and pizza crusts
  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables

You should also avoid chewing on ice or sugary gum. Sugar-free gum, however, is probably safe, and may even help prevent tooth decay.3

Use caution with acidic foods and drinks, such as coffee, fruit juices, vinegar, and even yogurt. A study found that these products, especially coffee, can cause braces to release small amounts of metal.4

Risks of Eating Sticky or Hard Foods with Braces

Hard or sticky foods can damage the braces’ wires or bands by bending them out of place. They can also loosen or displace brackets.

Sticky food may also be difficult to dislodge with regular brushing. If the food stays in your mouth for too long, it will attract bacteria that contribute to tooth decay.5

By avoiding foods that are likely to get stuck in your braces, you’ll be able to maintain them. You’ll also avoid hassle and frustration when it comes to brushing your teeth.

Tips for Keeping Your Braces Secure 

Keeping your braces protected and secure isn’t just a matter of careful eating. You’ll also want to:

  • Brush and floss regularly to keep up with oral hygiene
  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions
  • Wear a mouthguard if you want to keep your braces protected while playing contact sports
  • Contact your orthodontist as soon as possible if any problems occur or if you have concerns

Brushing and flossing with braces will require more of your attention. You’ll want to keep your eye out for any stray food particles. Take your time to ensure you’re doing a thorough job.

Summary

While wearing braces, be mindful of what and how you eat. This will protect the effectiveness of your braces and eliminate prolonged treatment time. It will also help you avoid the pain and discomfort that certain foods may cause.

Avoid hard or sticky foods during your braces treatment. They can damage your braces by bending wires or even displacing brackets. They can also become stuck in hard-to-see or hard-to-reach places.

During the first few days your teeth (and possibly your gums and inner lips and cheeks) will be more sensitive than usual. This is a time to stick to foods that don’t require much chewing.

You may also want to eat more foods that are both soft and dense in nutrients, such as soups and smoothies. This will help you get enough nutrition without chewing too much.

As your teeth become more accustomed to the braces, they’ll be less sensitive. Your range of acceptable foods will begin to expand.

Even then, you’ll still want to exercise caution by taking careful bites, eating slowly, and continuing to avoid hard or sticky foods. You’ll also want to limit your intake of sugar and acidic foods and drinks, such as coffee.

In addition to eating carefully, you should maintain regular oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. Follow your orthodontist’s instructions and contact them if you have any issues.

Last updated on March 31, 2022
5 Sources Cited
Last updated on March 31, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Khatri, Jeevan M, and Vijaymala D Kolhe. “Nutrition and orthodontics.International Journal of Orthodontic Rehabilitation vol. 9,1 163-167. 28 Dec. 2018.
  2. Singh, Navneet, et al. “Nutrition and orthodontics: Interdependence and interrelationship.” Research & Reviews: Journal of Dental Sciences vol. 5,3 18-22. Sept. 2017.
  3. Chewing Gum.” American Dental Association.
  4. Wołowiec, Paulina et al. “Do Dietary Habits Influence Trace Elements Release from Fixed Orthodontic Appliances?.” Biological trace element research vol. 180,2 : 214-222. doi:10.1007/s12011-017-1011-5
  5. Aljohani, Salha R, and Doaa H Alsaggaf. “Adherence to Dietary Advice and Oral Hygiene Practices Among Orthodontic Patients.Patient preference and adherence vol. 14 1991-2000. 20 Oct. 2020, doi:10.2147/PPA.S277034
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