7 Foods to Avoid with Braces

  • young-girl-with-braces-smiling
    Keeping Braces On and Teeth Healthy
    If you have braces, you’ve invested significant time and money on improving your teeth. One important way to keep your orthodontics working, and stick to that date when you’re supposed to get them off, is to avoid foods that can damage the hardware—or your teeth underneath. Be sure to bypass the following seven foods to ensure your teeth stay healthy and your braces stay on, and that you don’t have to spend more time and money getting broken pieces fixed.

  • movie-theater-popcorn
    Popcorn can wreak serious havoc on your orthodontics, thanks to the kernel at the heart of each piece. Kernels get lodged in your brackets and wires, which can cause discomfort and swelling in your gums. This can actually become quite painful, and could even require an extra trip to the orthodontist to remove damaged brackets, eliminate the stuck kernel, and then put everything back on. Skipping the popcorn can save you from adding some serious stress to your orthodontic treatment.

  • pair-of-apples
    Certain Raw Fruits and Veggies
    While raw apples, celery and carrots are healthy snacking choices, biting directly into their hard exteriors with your front teeth puts your braces at risk for breaking and damaging your teeth in the process. Before enjoying fresh produce, cut it up into small pieces that don’t require you to further break it down with your teeth. Roasting vegetables also softens them and adds flavor, and softer fruits like bananas and berries can satisfy a fruit craving, too.

  • gummy-bears
    Have a sweet tooth? Hard and sticky candy put your orthodontics at risk in a few different ways. Hard candies have the potential to break wires or pop brackets when you bite down on them. Sticky candies, while they don’t have a tough shell, can get stuck to brackets and shift their positions or even pull them off, and they also have the potential to bend your wires. Something softer, like chocolate, is a better choice for your afternoon treat.

  • corn-on-the-cob
    Corn on the Cob
    While you don’t need to avoid this food all together, you will need to modify how you eat it to keep your braces safe. Instead of biting corn straight off the cob—which can damage wires and brackets and leave kernels uncomfortably lodged between your braces and teeth—slice the corn off the cob before enjoying it. You still get to eat fresh corn without having to worry about adding extra time and money to your treatment.

  • glass-of-ice-water-with-lemon
    You may not even realize you do it, but chewing ice is a common habit that can do some real damage to your braces. Similar to hard candy, biting down on a hard piece of ice can pop off multiple brackets and damage your wires. Once this happens, you’ll likely have to get broken brackets removed and replaced, which could add some cost to your treatment and put more stress on your teeth.

  • hard-shell-tacos-on-plate-with-peppers
    Hard Tacos
    You may need to switch from hard to soft taco shells for the duration of your orthodontic treatment, or get a little creative with how you eat them. Biting directly into a hard shell with your front teeth puts braces’ brackets and wires—and your teeth underneath—at risk for being broken or damaged. If you really crave that crunch, make a bowl out of your taco and crumble the shell on top of the filling.

  • bowl-of-nuts
    Even though nuts generally come in small chunks, they tend to get lodged between brackets, teeth and wires. Once stuck, they can be difficult and sometimes painful to remove. Even small particles have a tendency to get trapped, which increases your risk of tooth decay as the lodged particle gathers bacteria. Luckily, there are other ways to satisfy a nut craving, like spreading peanut or almond butter on bread, or grinding nuts into smoothies or baked goods.

7 Foods to Avoid with Braces

About The Author

Allison Firestone has been writing and editing professionally for over a decade. She is currently working on her doctorate in education, specializing in disability, learning, and childhood mental health. She has a master’s in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s in special education from the University of Oregon.
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  5. Nutrition. Mouth Healthy by the American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/Teens/nutrition
  6. Orthodontic Treatment. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/orthodontics/orthodontic-treatment
  7. SAFE Food for Braces. Australian Society for Orthodontics. https://www.aso.org.au/safe-foods-braces
  8. What (and How) to Eat When You’re Having Dental Issues. Mouth Healthy by the American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/nutrition-concerns
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Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 30
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