If your dentist or orthodontist has recommended braces to help straighten your teeth or solve a problem like gaps, an underbite or overbite, you might be wondering what foods you can and cannot eat with your new braces.
Eating with braces can be a hard adjustment for some patients – especially those with a sweet tooth! There are some foods that will suddenly be off-limits, and no one likes having to take a break from their favourite foods.
However, braces can drastically improve the appearance of your smile and it’s important to look after them – as well as your teeth – until the end of your treatment.
In this blog, we share some insights into how to care for your braces in the first week of treatment, how to brush your braces, and we share the foods you can and cannot eat to answer the question, “what can I eat with braces?”
What to eat with braces in the first week
It’s normal to feel some discomfort in your first week of eating with braces. Your mouth is still getting used to the new appliance – brackets may feel foreign for a little while, but soon you won’t even notice they are there.
In your first week of eating with braces, we recommend opting for soft foods to avoid putting too much pressure on the new brackets. Here are some ideas around what to eat with braces in the first week:
- Unsweetened yoghurt
- Soft boiled vegetables and stewed fruits
- Thin soups
- Scrambled eggs
- Oatmeal or porridge
- Soft cheeses
A very common question we get from patients: “can you eat ice cream with braces?” While it might be tempting to eat some ice cream to relieve discomfort, ice cream is very high in sugar and will coat the enamel of your teeth in sugar, making it harder for you to brush and clean your teeth.
We also recommend avoiding these foods in your first week of eating with braces:
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy food
- Thick or chewy bread
- Thick cuts of meat
In the first week of wearing braces, your teeth will feel a little bruised and your lips and cheeks may become irritated from the metal protrusions on the braces. This settles down after the first week and becomes much more manageable.
It can help to take Panadol and to chew sugar free gum gently to ease this discomfort.
Ulcerated lips and cheeks are best relieved by saltwater rinses and by applying the supplied wax to the sharp parts of the braces where they are irritating the ulcer.
What you can’t eat or drink with braces
Getting braces is an adjustment. All of a sudden, there are lots of foods to avoid in order to avoid damaging the wires, elastic bands, and brackets. However, there’s no need for concern. Before long, you’ll be back to eating the foods you love like ice cream (in moderation, of course).
In the meantime, what you can’t eat or drink with braces:
- Crispy foods like popcorn, chips, hard crackers, pretzels, and nuts
- Chewy lollies like Minties, Fantails, gummies and liquorice
- Hard candies (biting into hard food can break the brackets)
- Hard fruits and vegetables like corn on the cob, apples, and raw carrots (although these foods will need to be cut up and chewed with your back teeth)
- Chewy bread like pizza crust and bread rolls
- Ice cubes and hard ice blocks
- Chewing gum or bubble gum which contains sugar
It’s important to avoid sugary drinks like cola and lemonade for the most part, too. While it’s okay to have a fizzy drink occasionally, braces tend to trap a lot of plaque (i.e. the soft white film on your teeth) so the sugar you eat or drink is instantly converted to acid. Plaque is bacteria – when it is soaked in sugar, it produces acid which can cause enamel damage, leading to tooth decay or decalcification.
It can even leave marks on your teeth where your braces once were. For some insight, here’s a chart displaying the different effects sugar can have on your teeth once your braces have been removed.
Image: Brace Yourself
What you can eat with braces
The best foods for eating with braces are low in sugar and don’t require a lot of chewing. Your braces are sensitive to damage and sticky, chewy, or hard foods can damage the wires, brackets, or bands.
However, it’s also important to maintain a healthy diet while living with braces, too. Here are some of the foods you can eat with braces:
- Dairy – soft cheeses, pudding, and milk-based drinks like smoothies
- Bread – tortillas, muffins, and pancakes
- Grains – pasta, quinoa, and soft rice
- Cereals – avoid sugary cereals like Nutrigrain and Coco Pops
- Meat – soft chicken, sandwich meats, and meatballs
- Seafood – tuna, salmon, and crab
- Vegetables – mashed potato, spinach, steamed beans and peas
- Fruit – bananas, berries, applesauce, and fruit juice.
How to brush your braces
Achieving a perfect smile is a team effort. Your orthodontist will install the appliance to straighten your teeth and make the necessary adjustments to move the teeth into place over time, but it’s your responsibility to take care of your teeth and braces in the meantime.
It’s important to brush your teeth four times a day, ideally after breakfast, mid afternoon, dinner time and before going to bed.
If you’re out and about for lunch, consider keeping a water bottle on you so you can swish water around in your mouth to clean your teeth in the meantime.
When it comes time to brush your teeth, there are seven simple steps.
- Using Piksters (a small bottle brush), clean under the wire and between each bracket to remove food and plaque.
- Start by scrubbing horizontally on the part of the teeth between the gums and the braces, working right around each jaw from the rear most tooth to the opposite side.
- Brush the section of teeth between the braces and the biting surface, again using a horizontal scrubbing action.
- Squish the bristles of the brush up between the brackets under the wire to clean between the brackets.
- Brush the other surfaces of your teeth, the biting surfaces and the tongue side of the teeth in your usual manner.
- Brush the chewing surface of all your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.
- Smile and check your teeth in the mirror. Your braces should be shiny, clean, and free of food.
Flossing is also as important as it ever was! It can be difficult to floss with braces, but there are flossing tools available to help clean between your teeth. Piksters, for example, are easily accessible at your local supermarket and there are eco-friendly options available so you can reduce your impact on the environment.
For more advice about eating with braces, get in touch with your dentist or orthodontist
If you still have some questions or concerns about eating with braces, it’s always wise to get in touch with your dentist or orthodontist. At Swansea Dental Practice, we have a number of dental professionals who can provide more insight and advice to keep your braces in excellent condition.